What can I do with my coronavirus summer?

A drawing by Abigail Murphy

Abigail Murphy; Arlington, VA—

Hey Abby, 

What can I do with my summer amid coronavirus precautions and closures?

Hey bored buddy,




I receive a lot of texts throughout the day. I mean, that’s expected. We are quarantined. I’m a teenager. In the past five months, I’ve rarely seen anyone outside my family, and, if I do, I wear a mask and social distance. In turn, I get a lot of texts. People are lonely. I’m lonely. (See: my poem

But a lot of the texts I receive—they’re not sentences or even words.

They’re screams, or groans, or sighs. 

I created a text group chat with my friends from across the country—a screaming text group chat, to be exact. Whenever someone needs to grieve their grievances, they can vent-text into the group filled with both strangers and some of their closest friends. 

The so-called screamchat started a couple weeks ago. I was texting my friend, and I told her to “scream into the void on the count of three.” We both typed “AHHH” and sent it to each other. The messages were not us screaming at each other. Rather, we were sharing exasperation into a place where it could be received; our texts weren’t actually a void because there was someone on the other end to see our screams. 

In order to prevent our virtual screams from drifting through the open, virtual air and ending up only on one other person’s screen, I decided to find a way to get more people involved. I advertised my idea to some friends: a group chat where we could rant, scream, vent, anything. People were interested. Now, the screamchat has 16 members. 

Some original members quickly left when they were flooded with texts. Some more of my friends joined later on. Some of their friends have joined. Some have gotten to know these people they never knew before or only knew from me in passing conversations. 

And, for me, it’s really sweet to see so many of my friends in one place, whether they’re venting to strangers, teasing each other or waiting for those moments of exasperation in this closed, confusing world to share an “AHHhhhHh.” 

We don’t need to explain why we need to scream. Sometimes people do explain the source of their “ahhh,” but, mostly, the screams fall into the screamchat without any accompanying explanation, questions or follow-ups. 

With a text, we can let out some of the feelings we need to. 

We live in a world where people flinch when someone near them coughs or breathes too hard. Real-life screaming lets out more air than is safe during the coronavirus era. And, if I heard a scream that was not coming from a small child, I would be pretty concerned. In fact, it’s been so long since my days of childhood screaming that I’m unsure I know how to scream anymore. However, I do know the feeling of needing to scream, and I’m glad I now have a place to do it. 

So, if you’re looking for something to do, make a group chat with a bunch of people who don’t know each other. Start screaming. We’re living through a pandemic in an age in which we can talk to someone thousands of miles away in a few seconds. You’re going to want to scream, and what better way to do it?

This edition of Hey Abby answers the Imprint Advice Section’s summer prompt: 

“What’s one thing you did this summer that you recommend everyone does? Tell us a story.”

But it was also a reader-submitted question! If you have a question for Abby to answer, fill out

this form: https://forms.gle/gV5PCgFj7TzmwR4Y8 

If you want to write your own answer to the summer prompt, fill out this form:


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