When you’re in a position of collective adversity like we’re all experiencing with COVID-19, I think there are two ways it can go: people can take sides and be negative, or they can come together, become a real community and have each other’s backs.
I’m in several online community groups, and I have seen division, I’ve seen judgment, and I’ve seen such a lack of empathy. If you ask a question people think you should know the answer to, they jump all over you.
So I don't really know why I joined the two MacEwan groups on Facebook. I was pretty sure they were mostly for students coming out of high school – and I don’t fit that profile – but for some reason, I just thought, “Why not?” I’m glad I did because those two groups have turned out to be the most supportive online spaces I’ve ever seen.
If someone asks how to access a service, other students offer suggestions and a kind word. If a student says they are struggling with their mental health, people reply with resources and let them know they’re not alone. If someone is feeling isolated, they offer to message that person and connect. When a student talks about feeling ashamed about their COVID-19 diagnosis, people express their concern and share their own experiences.
I haven’t seen a single snarky response. That shouldn’t be remarkable, but it is. Seeing people being so kind to each other amid all the other nastiness I see in other places online makes me emotional. It has made my post-secondary experience feel positive.
And seeing young people across all programs and of all ages being so amazing to each other gives me hope that we’re all going to be okay.
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.