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There’s a kind of running joke that if an asteroid were reported to hit Earth next week, the first thing people would do is make a meme. Well, we’re in the midst of a life-altering pandemic, and it turns out social media is at the forefront of everyone’s lives. Every platform from Twitter to Instagram to the relatively new TikTok has seen a massive swing of different activity on behalf of, yours truly, COVID-19. Unfortunately, we can’t count Zoom as social media or this entire article would be dedicated to them. In any case, we salute Zoom as the video chat app of choice for every teacher, talk show host, and squad separated by more than the appropriate six feet.
Increased Screen Time
So how has COVID-19 changed the social media landscape? As expected, screen time skyrocketed, with many Apple users reporting an increase of almost 50% or more. With 500 million daily users on Instagram, 145 million daily Twitter users, and around one billion hours of YouTube collectively watched each day, this translates to several hours more spent on the phone, but doing what? Well, as a response to show cancellations, artists began live streaming at home performances through Instagram stories. Fans watching made song requests and witnessed a personal concert from their couch.
|App Usage Stats||Monthly Users||Daily Users|
|2.45 billion||1.62 billion|
|YouTube||2 billion||1 billion|
|1 billion||500 million|
|330 million||145 million|
|Snapchat||360 million||218 million|
|TikTok||500 million||150 million|
Other careers and past-times relying on a full audience have also leaned into social media. Late night hosts like Jimmy Fallon took their shows to YouTube featuring artwork by his daughters, emailed monologue jokes from self-isolated writers, and zoom interviews with other homebound celebrities. Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert, and others rake in millions of views on each episode. After the sad news that all further NBA games would be canceled including the entirety of March Madness, the NBA began live streaming historic games as reruns on their YouTube channel as well as on Facebook Live. Influencers and celebrities have amped up the amount of content each day, making use of live stream features by doing Q&As with followers and live video chats with friends. And to keep us all in shape, live streams feature plenty of at-home workouts to follow and dance parties to shake it up.
But social media isn’t just for the famous or bored. With international school closings disrupting traditional learning, teachers have incorporated social media into their curriculum. Students can post a TikTok dance for P.E. credit or share a meme they found on Twitter about the Reign of Terror for an assignment in world history. However, in most cases, it’s more than just academics. Teachers have encouraged kids to share weekend update videos to stay engaged with their classmates or make a video on TikTok for a chance to get moving and stay sane.
- The Handwashing Dance – Making use of the short video platform, TikTok users started a new dance craze inspired by the number one way to stay healthy and avoid COVID-19: washing your hands! You dab to remind people to cough into their elbows and stay 6 feet away from strangers. Flash peace signs around your eyes and mouth to refrain from touching your face. Then rub your hands together and sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure you wash your hands for the recommended full thirty seconds.
- #safehands challenge – From Selena Gomez to Olivia Wilde everybody is washing their hands. Soap and water and some thorough rubbing for thirty seconds, people are challenging each other to wash their hands and post a video to spread awareness for COVID-19 prevention.
- #istayhomefor challenge – Instagram feeds have been flooded with people posting pictures of themselves holding signs listing the vulnerable people in their life at risk from COVID-19. Even though most people will experience mild symptoms, we all know someone who won’t. So who do you stay home for?
- Stories – Since we’re all stuck at home, people need different ways to interact with friends in houses miles and even oceans away. Thus, the chain story challenge is born. You can tag your friends for anything, from doing ten push-ups to drawing yourself as an orange. Just make sure to do it within 24 hours before the story disappears or you officially fail the challenge.
Riddles and art prompts and puzzles, oh my! The rules are, if you see a post with the hashtag you must solve the riddle or repost it on your story and admit defeat. Post a quiz or riddle on your story and with the hashtag #quarantinegames, and see how many people have to repost.
Bringing People Together
Since we are now confined to our homes indefinitely, social media has proven integral in bringing people together. Everyone is united in their isolation, so why not come together for other purposes as well?
In a time of crisis it’s really easy to panic and shut down, but thanks to social media, people are directing their attention to fundraising for relief efforts. Late night hosts like Fallon and Kimmel highlight a new organization each night where viewers can donate straight from the link in the video description. When everything on Broadway shut down, actors began living room concert videos in tandem with Broadway Cares to support all those entertainers suddenly out of work. Influencers began live streaming to give viewers some entertainment in exchange for donations by way of SuperChats in the comments. Dave Matthews teamed up with Verizon for a live performance on Twitter to #payitforward. If you’re looking to give a little, here are some more links to check out.
This instagram account started by Amy Adams and Jennifer Garner recruits new celebrities each day to read a children’s book aloud for all the little kids stuck at home. It’s not just for entertainment, though. Every video begins with a request that you donate to Save the Children and No Kid Hungry to help families who can’t feed their kids now that schools are closed.
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“Dinosaur Princess” story by Aviana Olea Le Gallo, illustrated by Darren Le Gallo . THIRTY MILLION CHILDREN rely on school for food. Responding to the needs of kids during school closures, @savethechildren and @nokidhungry have a new fund @SAVEWITHSTORIES to support food banks, and mobile meal trucks, and community feeding programs with funds to do what they do best—and also—with educational toys, books, and worksheets to make sure brains are full, as well as bellies. . If you can manage a one time gift of $10, please text SAVE to 20222. If another amount would work better for you, please visit our website—link in bio. There is no maximum and there is no minimum—together we will rise and together we can help. . Thank you and stay safe. XX #SAVEWITHSTORIES
Global Citizen and the World Health Organization have partnered with a new artist every night to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Artists like Hozier, Coldplay, Common, One Republic, and so many more stream live concerts from their home, playing fan favorites and requests. These videos provide great entertainment for millions of people in self-isolation, but also rake in plenty of donations for the cause.
Wandering around the same four rooms all day makes anyone feel sluggish and cramped. To encourage people to enjoy this time away from society, creators of all kinds have started making art tutorials and live streams where people can create something together.
For the young and less artistically inclined, Mo Willems teaches you how to draw characters from his books and doodling in general. Some places have live-streamed these lunchtime drawing lessons so everyone can draw together, and people are sharing their beautiful finished products.
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What was our #brightside today? Easy. Hanging with @mo.willems.studio The girls think we might be Mo’s biggest fans. We own every book he’s ever written and most of them are completely falling apart. Cora can recite all of them from memory. We own stuffed versions of Elephant (Elephant Gerald/ Ella Fitzgerald get it??? 😂), Piggie, Pigeon, Duckling, and Knuffle Bunny. We’ve spent endless hours with Naked Mole Rat, Leonardo, Nanette, Edwina, and those silly squirrels. The Elephant and Piggie books caused my struggling readers to become confident readers. Before Jimmy deployed he recorded himself reading several of Mo’s books and I cry every time I think about his inflection and enthusiasm. I can’t read an Elephant/Piggie book without literally hearing his voice. Long story short? We love Mo Willems. He has revolutionized reading in this house. I dare you to read one of his books and not smile. 🥰 Mo, thanks for hanging out with us today. We can’t wait to see you tomorrow! #lunchdoodleswithmowillems
Want a writing buddy? Need someone around as you make art? Just want some background noise as you go about your day? Leena makes these live streams just for you, then. It’s nice to have a buddy to encourage you to make something and not waste away your free time.
For all those people waking up at six in the morning to get to the gym, or starting a fitness journey with a friend, or making time for their workouts at night when it’s mostly empty, the gym closures due to COVID-19 disrupt a lot of people’s daily routines. Many of us have found that walking from your bedroom to the kitchen to the couch and back again can really suck the motivation out of you. That’s why trainers and dancers and influencers around the world have taken to social media to keep us moving. Join a workout on Facebook live or dance around with Julianne Hough during her Kinrgy Instagram live stream or try a new workout posted by someone you follow. Pop on a video chat and do the workouts with your friends, too, just make sure to share it later and motivate someone else.
In all this uncertainty, certain people make it their mission to keep us optimistic and cheerful. From good news livestreams to karaoke to, yes, you guessed it, memes, one of the most important things to do (after staying home and washing your hands, of course) is stay hopeful. Using the vast audience on social media, influencers and celebrities and creators around the world are working to keep us happy and hopeful.
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We are in this together, we will get through it together. Let’s imagine together. Sing with us ❤ All love to you, from me and my dear friends. #WeAreOne ……. #KristenWiig #JamieDornan @labrinth @james_marsden @sarahkatesilverman @eddiebenjamin @jimmyfallon @natalieportman @zoeisabellakravitz @siamusic @reallyndacarter @amyadams @leslieodomjr @pascalispunk @chrisodowd @hotpatooties #WillFerrell @markruffalo @norahjones @ashleybenson @kaiagerber @caradelevingne @anniemumolo @princesstagramslam
Helping and Hurting
If everyone spends all day in their homes, and each day has 24 hours, and people spend roughly half of those hours awake, and then about ⅓ of those twelve hours on social media every day, that’s a lot of exposure. Most of this promotes healthy habits, a communal message of hope, and plenty of good ol’ entertainment for the masses of people bored and alone during quarantine. In fact, there are infinite good news posts and live streams and organizations raising money and babies growing up and people having fun to make us truly grateful for the internet synapses that make up social media. Here are just a few reasons to be thankful for social media during COVID-19.
- Being online connects you to billions of people in the same situation all saying the same thing; We will get through this together. That’s a comforting thing to hear in unprecedented times. Even more comforting when it’s repeated every day by millions of people. This increased morale comes from influential people on social media advocating for self-isolation and hope. Whether you’re scrolling through Twitter or browsing Instagram’s explore page, there’s plenty of good feelings all around.
- Influencers and celebrities are posting new content almost daily. Never in my life did I think I would be grateful for a global pandemic, but these quarantine times are making everyone more creative. There’s a new artist streaming live music every day for personal, in house concerts. Influencers and social media creators who usually only post weekly have bumped up their content, in some cases even committing to daily uploads. I’ve been to dance parties and workout sessions and story time with my favorite celebrities. So even though most of us haven’t even left our house this past week, social media entertainment makes it quite definitely bearable.
- The awareness! Social media spreads news faster than COVID-19. Hundreds of charities committed to helping school children, doctors, nurses, small businesses, thespians, food banks and more receive the representation and funds they need through social media. Every social media outlet raised a cry when there was an extreme shortage of masks and other protective medical supplies in hospitals. Pretty soon we heard that the creators of “Grey’s Anatomy” were donating gowns, gloves, and other medical supplies. Then fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada began making masks in lieu of their normal lines. It’s only through the unmatched pervasive effects of social media that this could happen.
Unfortunately, with so much exposure to the influx of news and information on the internet, social media can become fear-mongering. The ease and speed at which things spread on the internet, especially when everybody is watching and using it almost constantly, means misinformation diffuses as quickly as credible news. Too much information combined with intensely unfamiliar circumstances tends to ingrain a certain amount of paranoia. This leads to panic that manifests itself in strange ways, like compulsive over buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. So while social media can be a platform of much solace and entertainment, it’s important to monitor the type and amount of information we consume each day. Keeping things in perspective is equally important for your mental health as self-isolating is for your physical health.
Yet, even this issue has abated through the efforts of social media users and owners alike. Most networks now monitor the ads and posts we see to avoid the spread of misinformation and brands attempting to prey on the uncertainty. They also surface credible sources for COVID-19 information such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
These past few weeks have been some of the strangest and scariest in a while, but it’s nice to know that there are some things even COVID-19 can’t change. There are still TikTok dances to learn, vlogs to watch, hours of tweets to scroll through, and endless Instagram stories, too. It’s not a great idea to spend all of your days in quarantine on social media, but there’s plenty to watch and listen to and dance along with if you need it. Hey, maybe you will even be inspired to write the next great American novel, or maybe just take some time to read one of the great ones already out there.