Students set up social media community to share isolation stories

Four Oxford students have set up a page dedicated to sharing the quarantine stories of students from around the university. Posting on Facebook and Instagram under the name OxQuarantine the accounts ask people to send in a 200-300 word description of their isolation experience along with a photo of themselves or something related to what they are writing about.

For those familiar with the Humans of New York project the format of brief, personal stories and photographs will appear familiar. On Facebook, it describes itself as: “An account to reflect the Oxford student experience in our strangest term yet.” The creators suggest they: “want to tell the story of our community – a story made by you.”

The content is varied: ranging from reminiscence about Oxford life, to which finalists will not return, to a vlog of a DIY haircut. The pages provide an outlet for students’ anxiety and frustration as well as sparks of hope and practical suggestions for how to make the lockdown bearable.

Undergraduates Emily Tsen, Lucy Zhang, Jasmine Yim, and Ben Chuah set up the page. 

Chuah told the Oxford Student: “I think everyone on the committee feels that at this time people not only miss their friends and the city but the wider community of students.” The committee continued: “We’re really hoping that students can go on our page and read a story that either makes them laugh or smile or think ‘I really relate to everything this person is saying right now’.”

The page currently has 12 detailed submissions and they designed it to be as inclusive as they could. Chuah said, “We really wanted to create a page where we featured as many posts from as many students as possible, and I think our goal for the page is to provide an online space where people feel connected to the wider student community and feel less alone.” The hope is that people can “relate to the experiences and feelings of the writer,” so that they can “feel like the student community still exists…” simply “because it does.”

Ben says that he really appreciates the positive reaction to the page continuing: “working on this project has made me feel so much better and less alone.” He continues: “it has been a great experience so far.”

The committee wants the OxQuarantine page to be a “supportive environment where people feel comfortable posting about anything to do with their feelings and experiences during the quarantine.” In order to relieve people’s anxiety about not working hard enough under lockdown and “help students recognise that so many people feel this way.” This will, they hope, reassure people that “whatever [they] are doing [is] enough.”