Editorial: Lack of vital socialization skills creates harmful habits

Editorial cartoon by Ana Zrnic

By the Southwords Editorial Board

As young adults, our accountability in this social and political climate has dramatically decreased due to the shift in modes of communication. Less socialization leads to more social anxiety, stress, and isolation, thus making students less motivated to achieve their goals. Our inability to connect with others sentences us to misunderstandings, lapses of accountability, and an inability to compromise. 

Unless we take proactive steps to reverse the bad habits created in the last 11 months, this lack of connection will have a lasting and damaging impact on the future. It is important that the school helps us break these bad habits by encouraging and providing opportunities for true social engagement; however, we must also accept that, ultimately, each student is responsible for their own learning. 

With COVID-19 still very relevant, there are fears, uncertainties, and doubts swarming the current social and political climate. Although the world seems to be on a positive pathway with the availability of vaccines, there is no way to know how long the pandemic will continue to affect us. Students have especially been negatively impacted, as we are not learning critical socialization skills to prepare us for the future. The damage that COVID-19 has done to not only the country, but the world, is irreversible and it leaves young people particularly vulnerable hereafter. 

Restricted to virtual learning, most students have realized that who you are learning with is equally important as what you are learning. Relationships with fellow students, teachers, and staff are strained, as we have become complacent and even comfortable with the anonymity of being online. Even though students are given the opportunity to return to in-person learning, some opt out due to health fears and the sentiment that the awkward socially-distanced learning is not worth their time. 

Although these feelings are valid, it is troubling that students are choosing isolation over socialization. 

Because of the lack of socialization in school, students have resorted to social media to voice their opinions. While this may seem like a positive outlet, the increase in isolation during these times has instead made students intolerant of each others’ social and political views; with less pressure to remain civil, conversations and thoughts become even more extreme, making tolerance impossible. Students have continued these online habits in the real world because of no accountability. 

Students are no longer open-minded and selfless towards one another, but rather hostile. Although there may not be a solution to fix the damages already caused by online behaviors, we must recognize that we have an individual responsibility to remain respectful of each other’s voiceless.

Without intrinsic motivation, virtual learning and social media use lacks the accountability standards that are needed for each student to succeed, which could lead to a group of unmotivated young adults entering the workforce in the years ahead. Although forced engagement is painful for all involved, it is necessary. 

Students, especially those who struggle with online learning, cannot passively attend school. Actively participating in class, which includes having your camera on when possible and talking when called upon, is vital to the future of each student. The school can promote these behaviors by calling on students more frequently and randomly, encouraging class camaraderie through icebreaker activities, and motivating students to break bad habits formed during online class.

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