Is Coronavirus changing the face of social media?

KatieRussell News Update

It was only weeks ago that social media was reeling from the news that Caroline Flack had taken her own life following a continuous and long standing campaign of hate and trolling through social media platforms. Far and wide, the hashtag and phrase, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” was used to bat away the nastiness and attack those online and in the media who had verbally attacked and bullied Caroline Flack. The world of social media has made it far too easy to be horrid from a far, to spout hatred from behind a picture on a screen.

Fast forward to the Coronavirus pandemic which has swept the globe in a matter of weeks, every person has the potential to be affected by this, any age, any race, any salary. Not only from catching this flu like disease but losing love ones to it. The UK has been in lockdown for a week with this virus spreading more and more rapidly with each passing day and I have a friend who has had it, I know friends of friends who have died from it and suddenly, it’s very real and very scary. 

Enter social media. It shows a collective world of people who share the same fears and has moved from a realm of nastiness and personal attacks to people reaching out to each other to help those in need.

From across the World in just a few weeks, we’ve seen so many displays of community and friendship.

  • Neighbours singing from their balconies in Italy and Spain 
  • Community groups being set up local streets, neighbourhoods and towns
  • The #ClapForCarers event on Thursday 26th which saw a nationwide effort from people to stand on their doorsteps and clap for the NHS and frontline workers tackling this virus
  • Advice and tips for those home in self isolation, how to pass the time, how to stay mentally healthy
  • A rallying demand for people to stay at home to prevent the spread
  • Coronavirus challenges (see TikTok’s #BlindingLightsChallenge , #OhnanaChallange and the #StairChallenge – what a way to pass the time right!)
  • Growth of networks such as Zoom and HouseParty which are multi video calling apps to keep people connected – hosting drinks parties on line, celebrating birthdays.
  • Celebrities streaming live and free concerts from their homes 
  • Free workouts from exercise gurus ( Thanks @thebodycoach)
  • Zoos and wildlife parks sharing live streaming webcam footage (Thanks @chesterzoo)
  • An outpouring of suggestions for hobbies to take up, everything from learning to play the piano, perfecting a new language or online cooking tutorials for things to cook from your cupboards (ideal for self isolating! – thanks @BootstrapCook)

Imagine this pandemic happening in a time before social media and the internet, would people feel more isolated, more alone? There is a mental health impact to this situation, those struggling with mental health issues are at risk of feeling more isolated than ever before but we must ask ourselves how would this be different in a world of no Facebook, no TikTok – no connection to the outside world – would this be better or worse? Personally, I believe there is a balance, social media is wonderful when it’s positive and helpful but it can be mentally damaging if there is widespread panic and anxiety.

So the question really is, will it last? When Covid-19 is a distant memory, will this all be forgotten, the happy times of social media? The time we all sat in our living rooms on a Saturday night and had a night “OUT” (in!) with our family on Zoom? The times we all tried to keep each other going, mentally and physically. The times we really became a community?

One thing is for sure, everyone is learning as they go, there’s no rule book for this but for now at least its made social media a much brighter place and we really are all in this together.