Many testimonies from teenagers and young adults have been received. After the interview of Chloé and a child psychiatrist(1), Gaëlle tells us about her experience and her feelings about a situation that she finds absurd in many ways, and difficult to live with.
I am Gaëlle, I am 19 years old and I am a university student. There are many difficulties that young people and especially students at the university face in these times of crisis. Of course, my opinion is not the same as everyone else’s and I don’t claim to be the spokesperson for all young people. However, I can say that my opinion is the one of many others that I meet and that it is not marginal.
For almost a year now, I’ve been taking online courses, whether by video conference or podcast, and there are many difficulties in keeping up with the academic pace and not dropping out. Here are some of them.
Let’s first talk about the difficulty of staying focused in front of a computer. First of all, it is important to know that the teacher does not teach the same way in person as in a video conference. In general, teachers are less enthusiastic in front of their computers, which is understandable since they speak in monologue, so to speak. They suffer a lot and often tell us that it is difficult for them too. This lack of enthusiasm (not every time, of course) affects our ability to pay attention and can make the course boring to listen to.
Secondly, I find it very depressing to have to attend classes alone in my room with the only human contact being messages from other students in the chat room. The voices are replaced by words and messages, which is of course not enough. The human contact with other students, which is so important, has disappeared. Before, talking with other students allowed us to put into perspective the difficulty of a course or to help each other by giving advice, etc. Discussing this by message is more difficult. And contrary to what adults may think, our message discussions are no substitute for real discussions and are less than real discussions. Exchanges and mutual aid are limited. So we are basically on our own in our studies.
On the other hand, it is very difficult to stay focused when you are alone in your room and distractions are everywhere. In the classroom, you have no choice but to stay in your seat and take notes, whereas in the classroom, you can do whatever you want. Those who are well disciplined will not have a problem with this, but the others well, and unfortunately, they are a majority. The new goal of each class has become: not to give in to distractions, which is an added difficulty.
Face-to-face courses provide a framework and stimulate self-study. Distance learning courses are boring and give you that feeling of constantly being on vacation. Reality is hardly perceptible behind our computer. For example, it’s much easier to drop a course from a distance: just close the window and walk away. There is less awareness of what this means. In addition, the room which is mostly the students’ workplace does not help this at all. Indeed, we don’t really feel in class because the setting is not suitable (the room is an intimate place of comfort). And then, for example, getting up in the morning to go from bed to the office without looking out is not at all motivating. Getting ready is futile and the hygiene of life is deteriorating.
Distance somehow makes us oblivious to academic realities. There is a general lack of motivation, and dropping out of school is part of everyone’s life. It struck me that so many of my classmates told me they were dropping out of school and the common response given was « just like everyone else ».
As we know, young people are full of energy. And the government’s coercive measures prevent them from freeing themselves from superfluous energy. Clearing one’s head has become difficult. And yet, it is essential to a healthy lifestyle in any way. Let’s take the example of parties: personally, parties are what allow me to recharge my batteries to re-attack the week of classes. However, as we know, they are forbidden because they are the place of important contamination. I understand that it is selfish to party knowing that we young people are not at risk but that the people at risk are. But, looking at the low lethality rate of covid, I don’t understand this measure. In fact, no one I know has died from covid, including my grandfather who was at risk and who escaped. Where do we talk about those people who escape this virus? Why do we always hear about deaths in the media and I don’t know of a single case in my circle?
The answer to that is: yes, but these people were probably lucky. What I say back to them is: have you, the people you know who got covid, died from it? Well, no, and with every stroke. There is de facto no one in my immediate or distant circle who has died of covid. Of course, I am not excluding people who have experienced the death of a loved one, but I feel that I will have to know at least one death given the actions of the government.
Indeed, my experience is certainly not applicable to all human populations, but unfortunately, I find it hard to believe what I see in the media, especially when they are affiliated with the government or any other power, where honesty is not verified in my opinion. The world today is so ruled by money, greed, dishonesty that I no longer believe what I am told, but only what I see. This way of thinking may seem narrow-minded, but at least I feel like I have the clearest view possible, in this world full of dogmas and ideologies.
Finally, parties are too heavily punished in my opinion. For example, fines ranging from 250 to 4000 euros are exorbitant and absolutely excessive. Also, I think of all the older generations who also lived their youthful days and I wonder why we should sacrifice for them, if we are careful to minimize the consequences of our actions such as avoiding seeing people at risk. Young people can no longer live their youth properly and must move directly into the adult age of responsibility and sacrifice. I agree that in some situations this may be preferable, but given the low lethality rate of covid, this is all unjustified to me.
On the other hand, I think that getting sick is part of the nature of things and that the stress of being afraid of getting any kind of disease is more dangerous. It is not by bombarding the population with anxiety-provoking information that we will boost people’s immunity, on the contrary. Talking about preventive medicine makes much more sense. It is when we are well in our body physically and mentally that we can fight everything, and it is not with drugs, screens, sedentary life (I am talking about the curfew which restricts our physical activity) that we get stronger, but rather that we get weaker.
Gaëlle, 19 years old