When you think of a teenager, a few things immediately come to mind: Netflix-loving, duvet-hugging, phone-addicted; the list goes on. What conditions do those qualities thrive in? Isolation. Give us an excuse to stay inside watching Netflix and sleeping without our parents telling us to go outside and we’ll snap it up. It sounded like paradise. As a teenager, I can confirm; it is no such thing.
Ok, maybe that was *slightly* dramatic, I think we’re all enjoying the lie-ins, and you’re lying if you say you haven’t binged at least one Netflix show. However, in between all of that, us teenagers are slogging through our school work…at home. Foolishly, I thought that teachers may be slightly more lenient with the amount of school work, seeing as we are in the midst of *a global pandemic*, alas, school stops for nothing; not even the Coronavirus. Although, now the ever-looming threat of GCSE’s and A-Level exams has collapsed, what little motivation I did have to continue my school work has completely disappeared.
Now, instead of revising for what had become those almost mythical exams, many teenagers are trying to keep in touch with their friends through the countless video call apps that have surfaced since Covid-19 first reared its ugly head. Despite the stereotypes having some weight to them, there is more to us teenagers than the lazy, antisocial, hormone-pumping machines many people think we are (I know, it shocked my parents too) and we do miss the social contact we used to have. Meeting our friends used to be a welcome distraction from family life, whereas now I’m stuck doing 1000 piece jigsaws with my family. (Seriously, the majority of the pieces are completely black – what am I meant to do with 25 identical black jigsaw pieces?)
Many of our ‘jigsaw nights’, as my parents like to call them, have resulted in me wishing I could just call my friends to have a quick meet-up to save my sanity. Despite this, I have remained resolute to continue being a considerate human-being and stay inside, which is, unsurprisingly, not that hard. Teenagers’ stereotypically rebellious nature combined with the fact that we are amongst the most immune to the virus means that adults seem to think we’re walking round with a big flashing sign saying “the virus can’t stop me”. Whilst we are very lucky to be amongst the least vulnerable, we don’t take that for granted. Of course, as with every group, there will always be exceptions; there are a few idiots who don’t seem to know the repercussions of not social-distancing, but they definitely do not speak for the majority. Most of us are just enjoying our daily exercise, and are tuning into Howard’s 4pm press conference like it’s the latest episode of Love Island.
Those broadcasts really focus on the island as a community: us Manxies are known to be friendly anyway but god, have we ramped it up now! When I emerge from lockdown for my daily exercise, I make a special effort to smile and say hello to everyone I pass – it’s the least we can do while key workers are doing so much for our island – but I find it is often not reciprocated, and instead people keep their heads down and walk briskly past. My parents have not experienced this, but all of my friends have had the same thing happen and I wonder whether this virus has led to a slight fear of teenagers on the island, or at least a lack of empathy for what we are experiencing? Our lower risk classification doesn’t mean we aren’t going through the same hardships as everyone else. These months have basically been cancelled for everyone thanks to the virus: couples aren’t getting married, first-time grandparents can’t meet their newborn grandchildren; the world has come to a halt. Funnily enough, teenagers aren’t exempt from these disappointments. The long-awaited childhood dream of prom, our chance to say goodbye to our class on the last day of our compulsory school time, even the excitement of results day; all of these are no more. We might be the ‘immune’ generation, but we have not come out of this unscathed.
I’d like to speak on behalf of teenagers on the island to say that we’d appreciate it if people recognised that the majority of us are also working to stick to the rules and prevent the spread. You may perceive us teenagers as ‘safe’ from the virus, but our sanity is not so safe; so please, cross the street because of social-distancing, but not just because you see a teenager.
A reciprocated smile can go a long way!