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How Social Media is Bringing Together Academic Communities During COVID-19

JUL 08, 2020 • 8 min read

The summer gives many school and university students the necessary time off from their studies. However, it is understandable that many dedicated students during this time miss their classes and academics.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of their academic community has been even more prolonged, given many students have not seen classrooms or their teachers in-person for many months.

In these times, many students have turned to social media to keep their passions alive, and digital academic communities are thriving. These online communities foster creating, sharing, and applying knowledge by their participants, and often include extracurricular activities and projects.

One digital community that has caught our attention is a subculture known as “Dark Academia”, which has an emphasis on reading, writing, and learning. Very importantly, there is a vintage 1930s or 1940s aesthetic to match. Picture dark cardigans, argyle sweaters, tweed jackets and pants, old leather satchels, long coats, plaid pants, French cuffs and black turtlenecks.

The subculture influences its participants far more than through their academics and outfits; it is a lifestyle. You might find their home full of candles, typewriters, leather-bound books, record players, cups of tea and old pictures. They take pride in limiting their use of technology, and much of the nostalgia is derived from turning to books for entertainment rather than a computer or television.

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An Instagram post by @myfairesttreasure

Much of the culture is based off the characters in the Donna Tartt murder-mystery novel “The Secret History.” The novel tells in-reverse the story of a closely knit group of six classics students at an elite US Liberal Arts college following the mysterious death of one of their close friends. The students themselves are dedicated to their academics, isolated, and defined in-part by their classic outfits.

According to Natalie Black, director of Strategy + Insights at Hierarchy, it is “The Secret History" that serves as a guide to transforming “the entire aesthetic [of Dark Academia] into an actual lifestyle. The trend is an interesting remix from a broad range of eras, from the 18th century to the 1940s.”

Dark Academia is an extremely inclusive community. Everybody is invited to participate and share their favourite classic books and outfits. The outfits are androgynous, and the subculture has a dedicated LGBTQ+ following. And while the outfits seem rather elegant, part of the appeal of the subculture is that most of the required articles can be bought cheaply in a thrift store. Only one key element is shared by the community - a passion for literature and academics.

Dark Academia has plenty of content on both Instagram and Tik Tok, and has hundreds of thousands of dedicated followers. Feel free to search for #darkacademia on social media to learn more about this unique subculture and community.

Has this given you any great ECL ideas?

The best extracurricular activities for college applicants are those that creatively transform real interests and passions into great activities and projects. What kind of fun digital academic community can you contribute to, or what groups can you help create?

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