Internet as a coping mechanism: rediscovering leisure through online communities

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Posted by Sudarshana Ganguly

I’m part of an online fan community, my favorite music group, and it hosts and creates multiple variations of content, and seeing so many people around me, albeit virtually, actively trying to channel all of their content. unused energy in something positive and people – binding inspired me a lotSaid Subhalakshmi Dey, journalist and student at Jadavpur University, when asked how she rediscovered her hobbies and found a space for it online.

The pandemic has forced us to spend much of our time online. The need to physically distance oneself has led to finding like-minded people on the internet and seeking more digital interactions. While it was certainly exhausting being online all the time, it also made it possible to explore and rediscover hobbies as people suddenly found themselves with more free time.

With this idea common to many, there has been a growth of virtual communities in various niches and social media platforms.

When third year microbiology student Adrija Dutta finished her first sewing project on her grandmother’s old sewing machine, it was like a breath of fresh air and a break from the monotony of everything stopping to disturbingly. Pre-pandemic life was certainly extremely busy, to the point that hobbies often seemed to be passive.

While online work and school have been equally, if not more exhausting, spending a lot of time online has not been entirely detrimental for many.

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“I discovered a huge artistic community on Instagram and saw so many beautiful pieces and so many people coming online to publish their work, inspired me to create an art account and pick up my brushesSays Sumedha Ganguly, a high school student. Like her, several other people discovered such online communities during the pandemic and were subsequently inspired to be a part of them.

Mrittika Mallick, a blogger, also shares how, for the first time, she learned the intricacies of blogging when she finally had some free time during the first lockdown. Since then, she has tried expressing her thoughts online and making space for herself. With hundreds and thousands of tutorials, instructional videos, and virtual resources, it’s easier for a person to follow their passions in an online space and share them with others as well.

Communities related to fandoms, aesthetics, popstars, books and more have thrived on various social media platforms, allowing individuals to come together and watch others create, as well as share their own creations. In addition, compliments and validation are amazing boosters that stimulate the creativity and safe space of a like-minded online community, also led to the flourishing of budding talents.

With more time available and an increased online presence, there have also been more learning opportunities. As a member of the different online communities, one can also be inspired by others, learn from them and ask for help when needed. Madhurya Ray, a student at the University of Delhi, says: “I’ve always admired makeup artists and the content they put online. Although I had started a YouTube channel and Instagram account mainly dedicated to makeup, beauty and lifestyle before the lockdown, with college and work, it was never really possible to do it with dedication until I had some time last year. All the beautiful online content in the community that interests me, has greatly inspired me”.

Read also : The screen: an active, living and breathing companion of our altered reality in the event of a pandemic

Mrittika Mallick, a blogger, also shares how, for the first time, she learned the intricacies of blogging when she finally had some free time during the first lockdown. Since then, she has tried expressing her thoughts online and making space for herself. With hundreds and thousands of tutorials, instructional videos, and virtual resources, it’s easier for a person to follow their passions in an online space and share them with others as well.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy trip during the pandemic, and it’s certainly a privilege to be able to pursue your hobbies during these difficult times, but nonetheless, they’ve also helped a lot to cope with unprecedented times.Says Debabratee Dhar, a student of English literature, who is excited about her newfound love for candle making.

I started making candles on a whim, after discovering some YouTube tutorials. I think the driving force behind acquiring this new skill was my desperate need to fill my time with something that would make me happy. So one afternoon I smashed some candles that I had at home and threw some pencil shavings in a container and tried to make one. Since then, I have taught myself various techniques and effective ways to go about it. I have to admit that every candle I make fills me with joy and a sense of accomplishment, which is so rare in these frustrating and trying times.“, She adds.

Subhalakshmi mentions: “I’m not as unhappy as I was at the start of confinement. I have worked hard to improve my skills, and I know that there is at least a small part of this online audience to whom I owe a great deal of my personal growth, who are waiting for my stories and songs, and me. remind you that I am not alone

While the internet is a great space to deal with the isolation induced by the pandemic and restricted interactions, it is not always a smooth affair. Sumedha also mentions how it has become too difficult to maintain an art account after a while, especially with studies and other obligations that have become more demanding over time.

There can certainly be pressure to meet the expectations of a previous post or the last video posted, especially when you see content constantly being broadcast. With the opening of workplaces, schools and colleges, the pressure from various responsibilities began to increase again.

Nonetheless, it is perhaps important to remember the moments of joy these hobbies gave us at one of the most difficult and unprecedented times we may have ever encountered.

Read also : Pandemic and the Internet: How Virtual Platforms Helped Me Find Joy Amid Blockages

Subhalakshmi mentions: “I’m not as unhappy as I was at the start of confinement. I have worked hard to improve my skills, and I know that there is at least a small part of this online audience to whom I owe a great deal of my personal growth, who are waiting for my stories and songs, and me. remind you that I am not alone.

At the heart of this is essentially a search for joy, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging at intensely changing times when disconnection has been a relevant issue.


Sudarshana is currently pursuing her BA in English at the University of Jadavpur. When not procrastinating or falling victim to impulsive retail therapy, she is found learning new languages, fangirling her favorite kpop acts, and dreaming about herself in as a future magazine editor. She has rediscovered her love for painting over the past year and is excited to be working on new projects.

Selected image: Ritika Banerjee for feminism in India

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