Shared Grief Online
The news notifications and throwback posts on your phone have most likely reminded you that today is the first full year since America has entered what we’ve been experiencing as the pandemic. This time last year, the news took a complete 180 and events quickly started shutting down, spring breaks were extended to figure out what to do about classes, and there was just a general confusion as to what was happening as updates and changes seemed to dropping every other minute.
We won’t get into the details of the anniversary itself (and we talked about the emotions you’re most likely feeling last week), but because today likely feels more significant than the other mundane, tiring, and frustrating than most of the other 364 days this past year, we did want to talk about encountering this kind of content and how people express their feelings about a shared traumatic experience (even if they don’t consider it to be one) on public platforms.
Grief looks and feels different for everyone. Your timeline may be filled with throwbacks, or it may only have a couple. Some may be posting their old photos in jest, joking about how wild it that we met up in groups or how shocked that they were on an airplane this time last year. Others may be using humor, while others may use this time to reflect on the heavy losses they’ve experienced over the course of the year, whether it be death, jobs, or significant events that they had to cancel.
Unless you’re joking about people’s feelings and minimizing others’ grief, there really is no wrong way to talk about the anniversary, and it’s just as valid if you choose to avoid social media today. You may want to turn off your news notifications too as thinkpieces come in about how significant March 11th, 2020 was, too.
Overall, it can be hard to navigate social media spaces when everyone is talking about the same thing, especially when it’s an event that has been around for so long and has had an overall negative effect on people. It may be cathartic to post online, whether it’s an insightful post reflecting on the past year, or just simply retweeting memes as a way to cope. For others, it might be a good time to turn off notifications and set harsher limits on your screentime if you feel like getting news about today is going to make you upset.
And even though other’s coping mechanisms online aren’t the same for others, and may in fact be negative to others, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.
How are you feeling today? If you want to discuss your experiences, what were you feeling this time last year? What would you tell your past self about how things are now at this stage in the pandemic?