In-person relationships are the backbone of our online presence


Hubert Chen

After over 10 months of lockdown, students find that in-person relationships are the backbone of our online presence.

Hubert Chen, Senior Reporter

For over 10 months we’ve been under lockdown, with extremely limited opportunities for in-person socialization. Burlingame students have adapted quickly to the new climate, turning to online options to socialize. However, as some have come to find out, pre-lockdown, in-person relationships that the connections that have lasted and sustained people through quarantine. 

Being completely online, there are very few opportunities for students to interact with people naturally. They can’t bump into people in the hallway, hang out with new people during lunch or whisper to peers during class. In online learning, the time spent “at” school has been streamlined to only include class time with minimal opportunities for conversation.

As a senior at Burlingame, I’ve found that my core friend group has remained the same, without the addition of any new friends. This is due to the organized nature of our online human interactions. With nearly all of our human interactions occurring through scheduled Zoom meetings, we tend not to organize meetings with new people, and instead stick to our existing friend groups.

However, when students do find opportunities to build friendships online, the relationships tend to be severely limited. Connor Lu, a freshman, entered Burlingame with friends from middle school and has remained close to them despite meeting new people.

“I would say that I am less connected with my new friends compared to my in-person friends,” freshman Connor Lu said. “Because with online friends, the experiences you have online cannot really match those in real life.”

However, our transition to online learning and socialization has still presented some new opportunities. As a freshman at UC Berkeley, Burlingame alumni Christopher Yu has had a vastly different experience than many Burlingame students.
“It’s sort of like a blank slate on top of a blank slate,” Yu said. “Going to a new level of schooling is a blank slate because you are meeting new people everywhere you go. But Zoom is sort of that blank slate on top of that blank slate. It makes it so that you don’t really feel the social pressures of interacting with a particular group because everyone is in their own little Zoom screen with their own little background, and there’s nothing really attached to that.”

Yu’s experience differs because college freshmen typically do not have existing in-person relationships, so everyone is in the same boat when it comes to making friends. This unfamiliarity at the start of college allows for online relationships to form without the interference of existing in-person relationships. 

When combined with a completely new social environment, the downfalls of online social interaction seem to be mitigated. However, while the new social environment may allow online relationships to form, these relationships are still severely limited. 

However, most Burlingame students, even some freshman, tend to already have existing social relationships that we like to hang onto, giving us little reason to pursue online friendships.