This leaves questions about how to organise student events, support and communities online to enable them to continue to enjoy their everyday lives – including virtual gyms, conversations and parties.
Even fitness classes have gone online. For example, The University of Stirling Sports Team’s lockdown fitness programme has gone global. The university reveals: “Nearly 4000 participants have logged on to take part in virtual classes over the last 8 weeks – either live or pre-recorded. The people getting involved are from over 50 countries, including long-haul destinations such as New Zealand, the United States and Japan. The figures are equally impressive on social media as the team’s daily home workout routines enjoy widespread reach of nearly 160,000 and direct engagement with over 10,000 home gym-goers.”
Time to be creative
So, despite the lockdowns across the world, social media apps such as social community app Leepse, offer a means to chat, meet new people, organise student events – including online parties. It’s important to support communities to enable students to feel that the time to party hasn’t ended. By keeping fit, for example, they’ll be able to look good for when the next real-life parties begin. Meanwhile, they can continue to explore and develop themselves while expanding their horizons.
Gabriel Mulko, co-founder and the chief operating officer of Leepse, says students are doing just that by organising any type of events online. However, he doesn’t think they all make sense: “We realised that online events provide nice experiences, but some of them can’t match real-life ones – concerts, for example.”
In other words, it‘s often hard to match the ambience and atmosphere created by a live musical event online. Yet there is still the opportunity to organise parties to create a feeling of togetherness, a sense of community, by creating likeminded groups and by making it possible to meet new people.
“Over the past few years, event organisers have turned to online apps and social networks to broadcast real-life virtual events with great success. Students are already participating in these events and are adept at using technologies to create opportunities to stay social. There are a variety of mobile apps, software or online platforms in the market already, but Leepse provides a new experience tailored to building personalised social experiences during a time when we can’t meet face-to-face.”
Be yourself, meet new people
Leepse aims to enable people to just be themselves, he says. “Recreating people’s favourite part in parties: talking and playing games with a group of people and then, based on the affinities, offering the opportunity to talk in private with the people they get along with the most.”
The app embeds a gaming portal to encourage conversations and engagement. For example, a user might select the “Would you rather” game, where you answer a variety of questions, which then link to users with the same answers. Mulko continues, “It’s a great way for strangers to talk and meet new people, without the awkwardness of trying to start a conversation from scratch.”
Leepse creates communities of like-minded people sharing similar characteristics and experiences. We save you time, we cut out the small talk, and we put you in a context where it’s easy to spot someone you want to hang out with, or not.”
Mulko believes that college and university aren’t just about lectures and study. He explains that they are also a place to grow up and to find oneself. Education is therefore only one aspect of the experience, and so this means there is a need to socialise, to explore, to meet new people, and to learn through finding new experiences. By pursuing these activities, it becomes possible to open up one’s mind to new perspectives of the everything and anything around us.
Mulko explains: “In college, you get to meet people from different horizons and who’ll get different trajectories in life. Those relationships will enable you to have a permanent bond with your college peers. That’s why people cherish their college experience. Ask high schoolers why they want to be at college; they’ll might talk about the great social life they can get there before talking about their education.”
Beyond the lockdown
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic may have stalled normality, but as Sterling University’s students have shown, life can go on and be enjoyed. It can be a time to socialise online and to be innovative. Mulko therefore applauds their example: “It shows that with the right mindset and the willingness to innovate, universities can adapt to the situation better than what they think. While the Stirling University is a great example, I am not sure this agility can be replicated to all colleges. Colleges aren’t known for their ability to make fast and disruptive moves.”
The key to happiness is for students to take care of themselves. Keeping fit during lockdown can boost a person’s confidence and overall wellbeing – particularly when the parties begin in real-life again. It should therefore be a top priority for all students. The lockdowns made it even more essential, even if that meant joining an online exercise class from home.
Unfortunately, he finds that students don’t often take care of themselves enough. They all too often push their minds and their bodies to their limits with an insufficient amount of sleep, by drinking alcohol to excess and by studying into the early hours, when they should be resting in preparation for the next day’s full schedule.
He explains: “Confidence is all about feeling good mentally and physically; and being confident is always important when partying whether it is to meet new people or to find yourself a date. During this break, students should come back fitter; they have had more time for themselves which may make them party even more, and stronger. They’ll want to party to let go of all the emotional stress accumulated during the lockdown.”
Participate in online communities
So, how can students participate in online communities of like-minded people to share conversations, offer advice and support each other as well as socialise? Mulko responds: “Students have had online communities for about as long as we can remember the Internet, but they used to be limited to their colleges or majors or friends.”
“Leepse enables people to go outside this limited circle and create new experiences with like-minded people that are not only in their colleges, but in their area and beyond. That’s what happens when you go out in a bar, a club or a house party. You venture outside of your little bubble and you make memories you won’t forget. And no worries, we filter out people who don’t seem to be someone you want to hang out with.”
Organise student events
His five top tips for using social media to organise student events – including parties, support for others and communities are as follows:
- Use it to have fun when you don’t want to go out because you’re too tired, you had a long day, you’re bored at work or you just don’t feel like it. That can turn your boring couch night into a great one.
- Use social media to make your “real social life” better. You can pre-meet new people, and you cut the small talk, you kill the awkwardness, and you avoid having to meet people you don’t like.
- You can find new places to explore and organise physical events there.
- If you are in the mood to go out, it should be used as a mean to go out with new people and organise activities that will break up your routine.
- Finally, you can find a lot of inspiration from what others are doing on social media and replicate it with your friends or through any type of events.
He concludes that a person’s life is a direct reflection of whom they hang out with. Eventually, whatever someone does in life will have a direct or indirect impact on their personal life, their career and their overall view of life. “Leepse, by creating social clubs with like-minded people that you don’t know, expands your circle and helps you meet people who will empower you to live the life you want”, he believes and adds that students can now have full control over what they want in their lives. In his view, success starts by meeting the right people who make you happy.
By Graham Jarvis – Freelance Business and Technology Journalist