Capturing COVID-19 in a Digital World

In a time where only essential businesses are running and continually adapting, the internet is our entertainment essential. Scrolling through, we find mask selfies, virtual concerts and challenges. Social media have allowed many to stay connected with others and informed during this time, without the harm of spreading COVID-19. Even legally, social media are the only way to stay in contact with many.

Businesses have adapted to show influencers at home with their products and ways to incorporate new things into our routines. Other businesses are using the resource to pray for the well-being of their customers and keep them updated with information. Sports and celebrities have had to become innovative with their daily posts.

“I miss seeing sports posts the most from social media. Being a sports fan has definitely made this whole thing a lot tougher when sports were canceled,” Chad Eades said. Eades is an active social media user. Eades said many sports accounts are showing highlights from games years ago to stay active with followers. “At a time when all major sports are canceled, you would think a sports blogging and media site (Barstool) would be struggling. But the creativity of Barstool allowed them to find different forms of content, some of it not even sports related, to keep their fans engaged,” Eades said.

With everyone home, we all have the same base. Creativity is needed to generate content for posts. “At the beginning you started to see less posts with friends and more selfies. But now almost a month in, people are getting creative with what they are posting. A lot of people now are posting pictures with their friends or vacations captioning that they miss it,” Eades said. Throwbacks of old pictures, items and videos are currently popular on newsfeeds. People are taking this time to reflect on their freedom outside their homes and think maybe they took that time for granted. Apps such as Tik Tok have become increasingly popular with people at home. Creators such as the ones on Youtube and Tik Tok have time to produce memes. Developing memes from home can capture a realistic connection to viewers compared to television shows or movies right now.

A typical social media post during COVID-19.

Social media have been tools for these times. They have also created negativity. The media have turned to focus on the virus with not a lot else happening. “Everything I see online at this point that people post pretty much has to do with the coronavirus. There’s a sense of negativity and fear everywhere you look and the celebrities who do the stay-at-home PSAs are just obnoxious,” Kyle Teto, a college student, said. Updates on delivered supplies, new regulations or statistics updates may seem helpful. But they can cause others anxiety. “I honestly don’t blame anybody for how they’re dealing with this crisis. It’s hard to come to terms with,” said Teto.

Rants on social media shaming people, worry and fear for the future are extremely common. Users on social media attempt to show off their lifestyle or brag about certain things to their followers. Pictures of people hoarding supplies or breaking violations to visit with friends or grabbing fame by coughing on food in stores have been popular on newsfeeds. “It’s aggravating to see people not following guidelines and continuing to go outside and hang out with their friends posted online,” Eades said.

Many were forced to go online to stay connected and maintain their regular routines. “Social media can help fill the void of not being able to spend time with people in person. But at the same time, it also highlights how it’s not really a substitute,” Teto said.

Social media don’t show any signs of not adapting to our lifestyle. “It shows that no matter what’s going on in the world, people will still find stuff to post on social media,” Eades said.