In 2020 are individuals more isolated than ever before? I write this while sitting alone in my room isolated from my peers due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 in Homer. I write this while our country is splitting like a log right down the middle due to the presidential election. As I do my Zoom classes I cannot seem to get off my phone, longing for that small amount of social connection that a text message produces. Is this what life has come to: Ignoring my education to answer a snapchat? The COVID-19 pandemic along with the polarizing 2020 election has caused major isolation and is threatening our communities.
I think back to fall 2019 when life was normal and we were all so connected. There was so much going on in Homer. Before the pandemic, the Homer High School building was the soul of the community. Not only were school, and sports happening but the community was using the space for things like the Nutcracker, recreational basketball, Church on the Rock and more. Now the high school is dead, no one steps foot inside, there are no gatherings. Instead everyone stays home trying to protect themselves from a deadly virus.
As for politics, Homer is falling apart. Before the election people drove around town with their Trump flags flying from the back of their trucks. Others proudly pasted Biden stickers and planted signs everywhere. There is no in between, there is no compromise, it is either left or right. It is “dogmatic political positions” that pull communities apart. This election has pulled families apart, it has pulled friends apart at its core, it is pulling our community apart. This is all happening right in front of our eyes, and it seems as if no one is noticing. Even after the election, people are not willing to cross the political divide. Homer will remain divided until we can come together to foster compromise, and try to see the world from new perspectives.
The pandemic also plays into this political polarization. It has lasted this long and is going to continue to last into the future because people have picked sides. We are blindly listening to leaders who don’t know what the facts are, and we are now paying for it. A virus should not be a political issue, but we have made it one. We should have listened to the scientists and come together as a community to help one another through this. Instead we have backed away from each other farther than ever before.
Over the past couple of months I have heard “it is a really hard time to be a teenager” so many times. I have had people apologize to me because my senior year is spoiled. At first I was hung up on the unfairness of it all too. But we cannot get hung up on the past. We have to look into the future and realize that COVID isn’t going away, and regardless who the president is or our political beliefs, we are more alike than different. We all live on this Earth together and we are all human beings. We should treat each other with kindness and work together instead of tearing each other down and ultimately isolating ourselves from one another.
Zoe Stonorov is a senior at Homer High School, who with the help of the community is looking forward to a brighter future.