Felix Liu, 14, from Millburn High School in Millburn, N.J., chose an essay from the Sunday Review headlined “The Pandemic Has Shrunk Our Social Circles. Let’s Keep It That Way” and wrote:
“Stop talking to strangers on Discord, and come help me make sushi!” my mom yelled.
“OK, OK! Lemme say goodbye first,” I halfheartedly responded. I was talking to a few friends on Discord about a new karaoke event. Ayaka lives in England. She likes horror movies and scary things in general, and femboys. Adam is from Malaysia. He likes food, Discord, and sleeping — except he actually doesn’t sleep that much at all. During the pandemic, I wasn’t able to play with my classmates or neighbors, so I began playing games online, and I got to make friends all around the world.
Kate Murphy’s article “The Pandemic Has Shrunk Our Social Circles. Let’s Keep It That Way” explains how Carnegie-Mellon psychology professor Sheldon Cohen shrunk down his social contacts from 400 people to an essential list of about 50 people, ranking them by importance. Murphy explains how humans can only keep a certain number of friends at a time, and adding one will inevitably lead to another person becoming less important.
My experience has been the opposite. I have actually expanded my friends online. My new online friends are also a lot more diverse than my real-life friends, coming from various social backgrounds, locations and age groups. I’ve gotten to witness multiple generations of thinking and culture in a single Discord server, and I’m truly grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with such a unique community. Oh, and Ayaka offered to take me on a London tour if I come to visit.
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