By Esther Wojcicki, Educator, Journalist, and Mother.
JGI/Jamie Grill/ Getty Images
JGI/Jamie Grill/ Getty Images
We all have been impacted but especially Generation Z. Their schools have closed, their lives have changed dramatically. Just to mention a few large districts: N.Y.C .Schools have closed, San Francisco Schools have closed, Los Angeles Schools and San Diego Schools have all closed. Universities have shut down: Harvard, Stanford, Yale and many more. All students have been sent home.
On top of the schools closing, stores are closing, airlines are cutting flights, conventions have been cancelled, restaurants are closing. Society is shutting down for a few weeks (we hope). In France, they are shutting down all restaurants and cafes.
As we all deal with these dramatic shifts, it is important to remember that now is not the time to party or socialize. While this seems obvious, many people nationwide are not taking the virus as seriously as they should. Perhaps it is because of what Trump says, “We have it under control.” Or perhaps it is because of what he said a couple of weeks ago, “it isn’t a very serious illness.” People are saying “so what if I get it, all my friends will get it too,” or “kids don’t die anyway.” Many people are continuing to socialize and party. Yes, actually party like they are doing at Mar-Lago. Trump is still doing it. Modeling this behavior does not help the community at large, it does not help us contain the virus. What can we do to convince everyone to self-isolate? Model the right behavior.
The goal is to slow down the transmission, not eliminate it; we missed our chance to eradicate it. But we can slow it down if we all model good behavior and isolate. People copy each other and if everyone is isolating, it will slow down the transmission. We can write about what we are doing, text people about it, take photos of yourself isolating and share them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It will become the thing to do.
You indeed might get coronavirus, in fact we all might get it, but hopefully in stages, at a slower rate so that the health care facilities can help us if we get it. Right now they are over capacity. We need to contain it. Just today Italy announced 368 deaths in one day from the virus. They now have a 7% death rate. We don’t want that to happen here.
Generation Z especially can model good isolation behavior for their parents and grandparents. Some of the worst offenders are people over 60 who just don’t understand, or maybe they got the wrong information from Trump. Also they have no idea how to entertain themselves because they are not natural web users. Teens and 20+-year-olds have the chance now to be the leaders, to make a huge difference in our country by supporting the efforts of the schools, colleges, businesses and governments and showing how important it is to avoid socializing. They can play a significant role by modeling isolation and doing things only online. They can model the right behavior for the adults who are not behaving sensibly.
Generation Z members are experts with phones, with the web, with social media. Now is the best time to use that expertise to help the older generation. Model chatting online, sending Instagram posts, using SnapChat, making TikTok videos, using Google Docs, searching whatever you want on Google and avoiding all socializing in-person.
Suggest that everyone watch movies and share their thoughts and ideas on the phone or computer. Another suggestion: Organize all your photos, look up recipes online, order some arts and crafts supplies, or take some courses online. Talk on the phone to your heart’s content or do a Zoom call, or a Hangout. Did you see that Zoom CEO Eric Yuan is giving all schools free video conferencing?
Other suggestions: Watch YouTube videos, learn something on YouTube, Coursera, EdEx or Khan Academy or even make a YouTube or TikTok video. They are fun to make. You can also read a book either on your Kindle or in hard copy. You can also go to LinkedIn and use their new learning platform LinkedIn Learning where you can learn business skills, take creativity courses, or enhance your tech skills. Or try Udacity.com that has thousands of courses and they cost less than a meal at a fast food restaurant. This is an unbelievable opportunity to do things you have always wanted to do but not had time for — there are hundreds of ideas. In fact, Generation Z knows the most about the web.
We are counting on Generation Z to help lead us through this tragic crisis we are facing. Amazing how all those computer skills will help us cope!