Putting the 'social' in social distancing
It won't come to a surprise to anyone that we're all spending more time on social media right now in lockdown.
According to App Annie, there has been a 20% increase in worldwide app usage in the first quarter of 2020, and in Italy alone during March, app downloads were up 30% on the same time last year.
Social media is not without its flaws. As it has become more integrated into our lives, we often hear about the negative contributions it can have on issues like mental health, and it is certainly important that these problems continue to be addressed. But it’s also worth remembering that, at its heart, social media is all about connection, and this never been more apparent than in the last few weeks, as we all go online to reach the outside world.
As a social-obsessed bunch ourselves, we wanted to celebrate some of the positives to come out of social media during the last couple of months. Mix yourself a quarantini and read along...
Yeah ok, we might be getting a bit sick of these by now, but the fact that we are actually able to talk ‘face to face’ with friends and family instead of just over the phone is still amazing. Video calls were something that were depicted as crazy futuristic fantasies in 90s TV shows (The Simpsons, I’m looking at you) and yet, here we are living that dream. Maybe hover cars really will be a thing…
Is there anything more 2020 than a TikTok dance challenge? When the video-sharing network first started to gain popularity, it was dismissed by some as a ‘Gen Z’ app, but that perception has most definitely shifted.
With many families quarantining together, they’ve been making the most of it by recording funny videos or taking on the ubiquitous dance challenges, often with hilarious results. Thanks to lockdown, TikTok has shown itself to be a truly multigenerational platform.
Laughter is the best medicine
One of the best things to come out of this unfortunate situation is the seemingly endless parade of hilarious memes, Tweets, pictures and videos, parodying the many problems we are all facing at the moment.
Making light of a bad situation has always been a human coping mechanism, and thanks to social media we are able to commiserate collectively and give each other a good laugh in the process.
The kindness of strangers
From anonymous online confessions about lockdown life (guaranteed to make you feel better about picking a fight over the last biscuit) to organising shopping trips for elderly neighbours, social media has made it easier than ever to create communities, both online and offline.
Local Facebook groups are full of people arranging book swaps, donating to charities and recommending takeaways or small businesses that are still taking orders. When we are forced to be physically distant from one another, it’s heartening to know that we can still find that sense of community online, and that it only grows stronger through adversity.
A bit of escapism
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly of all, social media provides us with some much-needed respite from the realities of a generation-defining global event.
As hard as it is adjusting to lockdown life (and the idea that our lives after it may never be quite the same again) we always know that we can still be connected to people we know (and those we don’t) for a bit of light relief, cooking inspiration or beautiful art. That’s what social media should really be about.