NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Social media in the time of COVID-19: How the pandmic has changed the way we use social media in 2020

Ashmad Conde takes a break from work to check out his social media.Photo by Isae Grullon

Ashmad Conde takes a break from work to check out his social media.



Social media has been part of our daily lives since the early 2000s. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many of us use it.  

Gyani Pradhan Wong Ah Sui, 18, of West Newbury, is in the NECC Exploratory program. He uses Snapchat, Instagram, and WhatsApp.  
Prior to the current pandemic he used social media “more sparsely,” he says. He would use Instagram for keeping up with friends as well as following various art related accounts.  
Sui started using Snapchat after moving to the United States. “Snapchat is not that popular in India, where I lived before I came here,” he says.  
He uses WhatsApp to keep in contact with his friends and family outside of the U.S. 
Sui says his social media use has “increased, because there’s not a lot of other things to do.” 
During the pandemic, Sui, an “aspiring filmmaker,” discovered a social media app called Letterboxd 
Letterboxd is social media for people who really like movies,” he says via Zoom. Using Letterboxd, you can post reviews, ratings and lists of movies you’ve watched and share them with friends. He uses the app to explore and see “different types of movies that I wouldn’t see otherwise.” 
He credits the pandemic for his discovery of Letterboxd and calls it “a plus.”  
Sui says his main purpose for using social media is “passing the time, although I try not to.”  
He also uses social media to communicate “especially during COVID, to connect with friends…” 
Occasionally he will use social media for news.  
“Sometimes I get my information through memes before the actual news article comes out,” he said with a chuckle.  
Sui does not think that social media has “been a solely negative thing,” and added, “Letterboxd, for sure, is like the silver lining. It’s just really fun to explore the artform that is film by finding out what other people think about the movies that they’re watching and helped me understand my own taste better, so I’m more reflective about what I like and don’t like in a film.” 
The one negative thing that Sui find about social media is “the whole ‘life looks better on social media,’ which can be disheartening and difficult to deal with. It’s a big time suck, at times.” 
Journalism and communications major, Mirrorajah Metcalfe, 19, of Haverhill, is aware of a decline in her social media activity.  Before the pandemic she used social media “just for stalking Halle Berry,” she says with a giggle via Zoom.  
She admits to not posting much at all other than “random posts to show you’re alive.”  
Metcalfe does not find social media to be helpful during the pandemic as she uses it mainly for entertainment purposes rather than for news or communication.  
She feels social media has a mostly negative impact on a lot people because everybody can kind of just see other people living their best lives and doing fun things while the rest of the world kind of has to stay in their rooms and be confined to a certain area and it’s hard not to compare yourself with other people and ‘think what can be,’ so I don’t know how healthy social media has been for everyone.”  
Metcalfe uses social media primarily on her cell phone which she calls “a stress box” and admits to purposefully not carrying it around all day unless she absolutely has to. She encourages anyone that feels they use social media too much to “take a break for an hour at least once and day and just be in the moment and spend time with yourself or your family.”
Ashmad Conde, 28, from Malden is a Unit Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital. Conde has used social media since 2005 when he created a Myspace account where he is no longer active.  His current social media use consists of Facebook and Snapchat. 
 Before the pandemic, he would check his social media as soon as he woke up. Over the last 10 months he has decided to decrease his social media use.  
“Not using is helpful,” says Conde about limiting his social media use. He has dedicated more time to reading and working out and feels more focused overall.  
He will eventually go back to using social media more than he is now, “this is just a pause…an experiment. he says, “I will go back to using it, but not at the same rate.”  
A familiar cell phone screen shot.Photo by Isae Grullon