Businesses are closed, school is online, grocery shelves are empty, and toilet paper is the new hot commodity. It’s no secret the coronavirus has profoundly impacted the Wilton community. These are unprecedented times, and although we may feel especially fearful and isolated, the world, in many ways, is more connected than ever before. To those who blame social media and the internet for our human inability to “live in the moment,” I ask you to consider its positive effects on a world in quarantine.

As a high school student, I am no stranger to Zoom. My teachers often use it for online classes, but my family and I have recently been logging on to reconnect with friends, both old and new. Last week, my mother joined in on a Zoom tea party with friends from across the globe, some of which she hadn’t spoken to in months. Through trial and error, my classmates and I have discovered that group FaceTimes are far more functional on the platform, and I often find myself wandering around the house, computer in hand, chatting away to my quarantined peers. Thanks to tools like Skype, Discord, Zoom, and Facetime, people are making a conscious effort to be social. Without them, social isolation would be far less tolerable.

Never have I been more thankful for the internet. Sure, Google has helped me answer the occasional homework question, but the recent content surfacing on Youtube and Facebook has helped me (and I presume many others), feel less detached from reality. Talk show hosts are broadcasting from home, Facebook is brimming with positive affirmations, and even actor John Krasinski has started his own Youtube series called “Some Good News.” Despite the emergence of a global pandemic, the world is finding ways to remain optimistic. If the coronavirus outbreak happened 50 years ago, our ability to communicate would be tragically limited, but today, “social isolation” doesn’t mean we can’t congregate online.

Aside from social and entertainment resources, the support for sick individuals as well as healthcare workers online is spectacular. While we spread the message to stay inside and flatten the curve, we simultaneously send our digital encouragement and applause to those suffering or working on the front lines. The internet is keeping people home and supporting those at risk. We need it now more than ever.

COVID-19 has affected the lives of nearly every person on the planet, and as we collectively endure this frightening and peculiar time, the internet is our only way to bridge the social isolation gap. Our reaction to this pandemic is a reflection of our love for one another, and our desire to keep this world, and our families, safe. Call your loved ones. Post online. Watch that TV series. Stay home. Stay connected. I am grateful to those taking this pandemic seriously, and to live in a world where my friends and I can bake brownies over FaceTime.

Niamh McCarthy is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.