The one thing I have struggled with the most during the pandemic is maintaining my relationships with people I cannot spend in person time with. Just like most people, I have been stuck in a house with my family for the last couple of months. While I love my family and am used to spending a lot of time with them, seeing as I spent 18 year with them, but this is the first time I have not been able to spend time with anyone else. The short trips I take to the store does help a bit but with our masks covering our faces and at least six feet between us, it is hard to get any honest human connection that way. FaceTime and Zoom have kept human connection alive during a time it feels impossible for it to exist, yet talking to someone through a screen with no activities can get a bit old. I began to look for ways to spend time with my friends even though we have run out of things to talk about, especially since there is less to experience stuck in your house. Playing video games is the easiest thing to do virtually with the creation of gaming consoles, online gaming and digital platforms like Discord. Yet, it is not easy to spend thousands of dollars on a console, online gaming membership and the video games themselves. Here are a couple of free/cheap activities you can do over the phone with someone you no longer get to spend in person time with.
Watching television shows and movies is probably the number one thing people spend time doing together. Of course, since the pandemic started we have all done our fair share of Netflix binging but it is always more enjoyable with company. I have found a browser extension that allows you to watch the same thing as your friends at the same exact time. You simply find the show or movie you want to watch, can be on Netflix, Disney, Hulu or HBO, click the Teleparty extension in the top right corner of your browser, copy the invitation link and send it to your watch partner. When your partner clicks the link, it will bring them into the Teleparty watch room where the show or movie will be synced perfectly. If one of you pauses or skips, the video will do the same for the other person. Amazon Prime Video has their own version of this on their website, but it only works for things on available on Prime Video. JellyParty is just like Teleparty but it allows you to watch anything from anywhere together. So if there is something on YouTube you may want ti watch together, I would recommend JellyParty. But be warned that while all these extensions are wonderful, JellyParty can be finicky at times.
Pictionary is a game that most people have probably played at least once in their life. Skribbl gives you the opportunity to play this with your friends even when they aren’t with you. For this to work, you will need to visit skribbl.io and create a room. After you have done that, you simply need to copy the invitation link and send it to however many people you would like to play with. Once they receive the link and click it, they will be transported into your created room. After that all thats left to do is press play!
This is a great website for someone who likes playing comical games with friends. It is a lot like Kahoot but with the raunchiness of Cards Against Humanity. There are multiple games to play on Jackbox and all of them are hilarious. Quiplash is a game to see which of your friends can come up with the funniest joke on the spot. Fibbage helps you figure out which of your friends is a horrible liar in a humorous way. And Drawful is a lot like skribbl but with a slight twist that results in hilarious drawings. Trivia Murder Party is a lot like Jeopardy, if Alex Trebek constantly made fun of you and and killed whoever lost. All these games are available on JackBoxgames,com and all you need to do is pay less than $10 for any game you want, create a room and send the rooms code to your friends!
Social media has been a prevalent platform during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Its use reaches countless purposes. It is a connection to family and community, an escape from the reality of the world, a marketing tool, an awareness promoter, and also a spreader of misinformation. These aspects of evolving social media usage cross the boundaries of both beneficial and detrimental. Learning to adapt to the constantly changing climate of social media is important to understand, in order to maneuver through work as a public relations professional.
During the time of the pandemic it’s been hard for many to connect with friends, family, and their communities. Social media is just one of the many ways that people are working to stay connected to each other when they can’t be together physically. One form of social media that has acquired a larger following since the pandemic is Tiktok.
Tiktok hosts a wide array of different communities, including but not limited to, Cottage Core Tiktok, Witch Tiktok, Alt Tiktok, and Dance Tiktok. These offer large communities between strangers and friends, and create an opportunity for people to feel less alone during the pandemic. Many older relatives are also turning to social media for the first time in order to connect with the older and younger members of their family. So much so that in a recent study 64% of those ages 35 to 49, and 34% of those ages 65 and up stated an increased social media following from March to May, with March and May being the months that had the most strict lockdowns during the pandemic.
One family, The McFarlands even rose to fame by filming their antics on Tiktok as a way to keep from being bored in the house during COVID-19. Among these antics they’re most well known for their group dancing videos. This form of content’s main purpose is to serve as a vehicle for smiles and laughter- something needed during tough times.
Not only has social media been used to cure loneliness during this pandemic, it has also provided a sense of escape. Something that many have struggled with, during the lockdown period, was finding things to do. For many, the solution was to log into social media and endlessly scroll through status updates, short videos, selfies, memes, and inspirational posts. The endless stream of content that is available on these platforms can cause the time to go by, and distract people from the real world. More bad news comes in every day of 2020. Some people chose to focus on real life updates, and others ignore it, by concentrating on the feel-good side of social media.
Information and Misinformation
For those who choose to tune into every update in current events, social media became the hub for quick briefings. Across all platforms information is shared nonstop about current events. For many users, their social feed is where they get a majority of their updates. This can be good, as it is a quick way of receiving important information. During the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many relied on their social media for the quickest updates. Unfortunately, some of this news has not always been factual, and with the spread of information being amplified, it has led to a lot of division on where groups of people stand on the same issues. One example of this, in relation to COVID-19, is the anti-masker agenda. It has widely been spread on social media, through the attention it has gained, by people against wearing masks, and also people for it. By mentioning this issue on social media, both parties are amplifying how frequently it will show. This is done by using hashtags, follows, and shares to spread its relevancy in the algorithms. In this niche, there are vast amounts of misinformation about COVID-19, including vaccines, guidelines, and mask usage, that can be detrimental to how the public has reacted to the pandemic. Not only does it affect the health and safety of the public, it has also caused a lot of division between people. Recently Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have been fighting against this issue by creating misinformation warnings on posts that seem to include unfactual content. While misinformation can often get mixed in with the actual truth, there is a great amount of guidance that social media has made available. One instance that sticks out the most is the addition of a COVID-19 Response segment that has been added to Instagram’s Search Page. This page includes the accounts for CDC and WHO, which are two large organizations, that have taken on the brunt of information delivery during the pandemic.
Altogether, social media has largely been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is easy to say that the effect social media has had on connectivity to communities will permanently change the way we communicate with others, and help to minimize the divide between generations, and their usage of social media. This is a lasting effect that will probably continue to strengthen past this pandemic. It has offered an escape to so many, when it feels like there is so little to do, or that can be done. The vast amount of communities available to people on social media helps to offer this escape from the real world, and can affect how people interact with each other. Another issue that has been impacted by social media, and the pandemic, is division caused by the mass-spreading of information. It is fair to say that this large-scale amplification of ideas is going to continue past the pandemic, but it definitely has come to a forefront with current events, because it’s something that so many can relate to worldwide. Overall, social media has formed a sense of community for so many, during a time when people can’t actually be together. This is something that public relations professionals will have to maneuver around in the future and adapt to, as the world of social media is constantly evolving to fit consumer needs.