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Reality dating shows have started to take over mainstream television. Shows like Love Island, Too Hot to Handle, and Are You the One? have garnered large fan bases throughout their respective runs, which include many college students.
So, why do we like this subgenre so much?
According to an article by the Hollywood Reporter, TV and streaming viewership has had a 25 percent increase since the pandemic began. Many of the shows that have seen this increase in viewership include reality romance shows, such as The Bachelor, Love Island, 90-Day Fiancé and more.
Since there was a general increase in viewership for all types of shows, it makes perfect sense as to why the reality romance subgenre has also had a surge in popularity recently. But the question now is why is it so popular among the college-age demographic?
Political communications major Cindy Muñoz said that it’s due to being able to see other people make decisions that make you feel more “normal” in comparison.
“I think partly it’s projection When college kids see these shows, they’re able to see people like them make some of these decisions and it makes you feel like maybe you’re not the only one out here making dumb choices,” Muñoz said. “Personally, my favorite show is Too Hot to Handle. It makes me feel a little more sane in this world [when comparing myself to people on the show].”
Since people are able to picture themselves within the contestants on these shows, they quickly become invested.
“Sometimes these shows make it hard to believe [these people’s lives are] true so it lets you escape your stressful everyday life,” Muñoz said.
Considering these shows often feature groups of 20-somethings that are attempting to figure out how to form genuine and meaningful relationships, it makes sense that college-aged people can relate to their decisions and feelings, despite how outlandish some of it may be.
It’s okay to feel lonely while we’re encouraged to isolate, but it can be used to our advantage.
One of the most pivotal moments for teenagers-turned-young-adults is leaving home and beginning to live on your own. Whether it’s your first apartment, a campus dorm room, or even your first house, living by yourself offers a newfound sense of freedom in your life.
However, loneliness takes a new meaning when you’re living alone for the first time in the middle of a pandemic. We used to only worry about meals we have to learn to cook or how to do our own laundry. Now however, the biggest issue to face is the natural feeling of isolation which comes from living alone and the need to stay inside. The biggest piece of advice to share is to not let the fear of living alone overwhelm you.
At least for me, the routine I have found myself reliving every day is wake up, eat, sit at my desk for class, eat again, watch Netflix, and go to sleep. When I start to dwell on this boring pattern for long I begin to see my anxiety grow and the loneliness set in. Being in my first apartment this year, I have learned some things and have come to new realizations that could possibly help you fight off the feeling of isolation as well.
Socialization is important in so many areas of our lives, especially for mental health. If you’re living with roommates, I challenge you to befriend them if you have not already and reach out to them if you need someone to be with. Having dinner together, cooking meals together, watching movies, or doing homework together could be simple ways to grow closer as roommates and hopefully flourish into friendship. However, if you don’t have roommates or don’t particularly get along with yours; don’t stress. You don’t have to be best friends with your roommates in order to not feel lonesome. Virtual socialization can be just as comforting and fun as being with someone in person. Contact friends you have from home or friends you have living in the same city as you and connect virtually through Facetime, Netflix Party, or even going to a park together while practicing safe social distancing and following healthy guidelines. Remember, everyone feels lonely. As a matter of fact, UT has a loneliness hotline on the CMCH website which can help you deal with the anxiety that comes from isolation. It is natural especially when living alone to feel lonely, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying your time with you.
Living by yourself drives you to find yourself. I know it can be scary, but being alone has benefits as well. Loneliness can be a force used to encourage yourself to get your life together. Think of it this way: we have all the time in the world right now to focus on ourselves and come to terms with loneliness. So make the most of it. Make self-care important to you, and take time out of your days to do something for yourself. Sometimes when I feel lonely in my apartment I think, “what is something I could do to enjoy by myself?” By asking myself this question, I am learning more about who I am and becoming my own best friend. This leads me to switch up my routines or simply find new things I enjoy doing alone. One of my favorite new activities is buying candles for myself and lighting them in my room while I’m doing work or taking a bath. It is incredibly comforting to walk into your room and have it smell good. I asked a few friends what their favorite thing to do alone is and the common consensus is trying to be put together even though you’re not leaving your room. Cleaning your room or apartment can help you feel accomplished and comfortable in a huge way. Additionally, taking a shower, doing your hair, putting on some makeup, or dressing up cute can all be valid ways to make yourself happier and feel successful without leaving your home. Any small task or goal you set for yourself can make the biggest difference. Another friend who lived by herself for the entire summer said she found art as a wonderful escape and something that made her happy and less lonely.
One of the most helpful tips I have received is the importance of decorating your own space. Copious amounts of cash is not a requirement to do this either. Put the things that you enjoy in your space and it will help with loneliness or feeling out of place. I’m sure the new bed you’re sleeping in doesn’t yet have that comforting feeling of your bed at home, but you will get there. Being in a cozy environment gives a certain sense of purpose that dims the feeling of being lonely.
Lastly, I do want to encourage you to get outside if you can. My bedroom at my apartment has no windows, so I often feel low or discouraged throughout the day which leads to loneliness. Whenever I go outside however, I instantly feel better and more connected to the rest of the world. This can mean different things for whoever or wherever you are. Going to a nearby park and doing classwork, getting up and going on a walk in the morning around the place you live, or even taking a walk through campus are all good ideas to get you into the daylight. Being outside naturally boosts your energy levels and happiness. Free aromatherapy and a boosted immune system are also benefits of spending just 30 minutes a day outside.
Remember to take everything at your own pace. Living alone is terrifying to some and with the climate of today’s world where we are encouraged to spend most of our time indoors, there is lots of room for growth and development in yourself. So yes, you need to learn how to cook, clean, do laundry, and set a routine for yourself, but the good thing is that you have all the time in the world to do it. Finding a groove that works for you takes time. If you feel extra isolated right now please don’t tear yourself apart trying to fix it. Small goals are a big help. Talk to friends, cook yourself your favorite meal, take a bath, paint a picture, or anything else that makes you happy with yourself. If you do feel extreme isolation or loneliness, never hesitate to reach out to someone. However, use this time of confinement and the feeling of aloneness to challenge yourself and learn things about yourself that you might not have seen before.
Classes at UT Austin are back in session, but unlike ever before they are commencing amidst a global pandemic. For many students, this means a semester full of uncertainty and adaptation especially when it comes to classes. Students are spending more time at home then ever before and the adjustment can be challenging.
In the comfort of your own bed, you can attend lectures, talk with your professor and even take a test. It sounds like a dream come true, but in reality students are struggling to find a routine, become productive and manage their mental health. It is easy for your home to become a place of stress and responsibility instead of relaxation and nourishment.
Regardless of if you are living in a small West Campus apartment, or a large family home, creating a work environment where you live is essential for success this semester. Here are some ways to create a space that promotes productivity, encourages rest and allows for growth and learning.
Finding your Space
Privacy is a luxury when it comes to staying home and it can be really hard to focus with families and roommates all around. When picking a place to work here is what to consider.
Assess the environment in which you like to learn. Do you like a lot of noise, some sounds, or no sound at all? If you like peace and quiet it might be best to pick a bedroom or a closet, but if you like a lot of sound and movement pick the living room or a kitchen island.
It’s also important to note that having more than one study space is a great way to break the monotony of online school. Try separating certain tasks into certain settings. For example, when you attend class and want a quiet setting move to a small bedroom or maybe even a patio or backyard, but don’t be afraid to sit in the living room with other roommates while filling out your planner or copying notes from a powerpoint slide.
Setting up your Space
Truthfully, the way you decorate and organize your desk can be more important than its location. A cluttered desk often reflects in the quality of your study time and work. Similarly, the more organized and personalized your desk is the more likely you are to have a productive and motivated study session.
The best way to avoid a cluttered desk is to not keep too many things on your desk. A storage organizer for your notebooks, pens, pencils and folders will help to contain the clutter. The more blank space you leave on your desk, the more room you have to spread out your study materials
Secondly, it is important to make your desk a welcoming environment. Not only does a personalized space encourage you to study, it can also make studying more comfortable. Here are some ideas on how to personalize your desk:
Add pictures of your friends and family
Switch out your LED lamp for a warm-lit salt lamp or Christmas lights
Add a fuzzy blanket or pillow to your desk chair
Brighten your desk with a plant or greenery
Place a vision board above your desk
Add small knick-knacks or fidget toys to your desk
Not every country can ignore a pandemic because they simply got “bored” but Americans prove, yet again, that having freedom does not equate to having intelligence.
“These are unprecedented times.” If I hear that phrase one more time, I might just explode into a thousand quarantined pieces. But, luckily (I guess), our country has decided coronavirus doesn’t exist anymore! We didn’t wanna deal with it anymore so we’re not! Science is incredible, isn’t it? You can just will away a pandemic. Or, at least, that’s what a majority of Americans have concluded.
Despite the continuing rise of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., it looks like people are going out more often than ever before. Okay! Since we value material things like going shopping or getting a haircut over the health and well-being of ourselves, our loved ones and essentially every living soul around us, here are some things you can do to distract yourself from the impending doom of our country:
Look Forward to a Career in Politics or, More Specifically, Capitalism
If you’re completely ignoring the safety precautions put forth by multiple health experts, you may be a capitalist! Good for you, that’s what America intended. The government is valuing the economy over human lives so it sounds like the perfect place for you. You can jumpstart your career by going to protests in favor of reopening, begin privatizing your own means of production and start saying goodbye to your friends now because they will probably (definitely) not be your friend for much longer. But, hey, you’ll have some money.
Make Some More Young, Hip Friends
It’s widely known that the most susceptible group to COVID-19 is the elderly. In fact, according to the CDC, eight out of 10 reported coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. are people 65 or older. Lots of younger age groups seem to think, because of this, they are immune to COVID-19 and don’t have to worry. If that’s their mindset, they should prepare for the future. To those people, I recommend looking for more friends their own age. Since they’re especially endangering all their loved ones of the older persuasion, they should go ahead and prepare for what life might be like without them. Surrounding yourself with other young, carefree, selfish people will soften the blow, right?
Don’t Vaccinate Your Children
A surprising amount of people are refusing to do the easiest form of protecting themselves against an illness (i.e., wearing a mask). If they can’t follow the simplest precaution, they might as well save some money and avoid all other logical medical practices. Keep the streak going, America! Either now or in the future, you can refrain from vaccinating your children. Sure, they might be unprotected from a multitude of diseases, but they’ll be following in their parent’s careless footsteps. Like mother, like daughter.
Don’t Use Your Blinker and Don’t Bother Flushing
America’s individualism ideology is truly in the spotlight thanks to this pandemic. I have never seen so many people blatantly disregard the well-being of those around them more than I have in the past six months. (Looking at you, Cabo 211.) Alright, fuck it! Let’s just throw in the towel now. No more common decency! When driving, don’t use your blinker; fellow drivers can just figure out your changing lanes on their own time. Don’t worry about flushing the toilet after you’re done. The person after you is perfectly capable of flushing. It’ll be like that scene from Big Mouth’s second season when shame disappears. Complete bliss(?).
Try Skydiving Without a Parachute
Yes, people are being reckless with everyone else’s lives, and it appears most Americans are paying no mind to their own health as well. As previously mentioned, people who are ostensibly young and healthy seem to believe they’re invincible. Let’s truly test that theory. You should try skydiving without a parachute! It’s just as thoughtless and irresponsible as not taking a pandemic seriously. Plus, I’m sure you’d have a really great view along the way. It would certainly be prettier than being stuck on a respirator in the hospital.
I know it can be difficult to read social cues via the Internet but this is satire. I do not condone any of these behaviors and neither does anyone at BurntX. Obviously, this is not directed at those who have been following all health and safety guidelines. This is aimed at critiquing those who are taking this pandemic lightly. It’s for those who are selfish enough to not even wear a piece of fabric over their face to protect their neighbor.
Although I have attempted to make parts of this funny, the situation of our country is no laughing matter. People are dying. Loved ones are being affected and hospitalized everywhere.
Please please please please PLEASE do your part to help in any way you can. Stay informed, especially regarding the status of your county/city. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay home unless you absolutely have to leave. For the love of God, stop eating out at restaurants! Get some take out! Just, please, be safe and think about those around you.