Social Media in Lockdown: Friend or Foe?

A clear outcome of the current lockdown measures imposed across the world is an increase in activity on social media. Social media has been a huge part of our technology-driven society for over a decade now, so the fact that it has perhaps become more embedded into our current lives during lockdown has encouraged me to investigate both the positives and negatives this can bring.

The ability of social media to connect isolated friends and family and keep people connected to their loved ones has been a huge positive during the coronavirus pandemic. The new phenomenon of online pub quizzes has become central to many people’s weekly schedules and highlight how useful social media has been in organising ways for friends and family to socialise whilst apart.

Zoom and Houseparty have become particularly popular platforms on which these quizzes and social catchups can be held. Even in our local Nottingham student community, the benefits of this can be seen with platforms like Zoom and Facebook proving our student media platforms to cover the Student Union officer elections that recently look place without being present at university.

Social media has also become an essential form of entertainment during this period for many people. Scrolling through Instagram and Twitter for hours, catching up with your favourite influencers and celebrities, whether you see this as positive or negative it has undoubtedly become a source of entertainment for many people.

TikTok is also a clear indication of the entertainment potential of social media, with it becoming one of the biggest platforms for showcasing small sketches, dances and even advertising products and services during lockdown. Many businesses are now even employing staff to run their own TikTok pages due to its popularity.

This increase in activity on social media has ultimately led to more exposure for these smaller companies

Many social media platforms have also been essential in promoting smaller businesses shown through Instagram’s new ‘small business’ label that accounts can now use to encourage people to support independent companies. This increase in activity on social media has ultimately led to more exposure for these smaller companies. Influencers promoting their ‘favourite lockdown outfits’ and products has also helped to encourage more online shopping which is beneficial to bigger businesses too. This shows how social media platforms are also being used to help keep businesses, both big and small, afloat.

However, as with anything and especially the controversial topic of social media, negative consequences can also come from people spending a large amount of time on it.

One of the biggest negatives of social media during this period that I have personally found is the potential effect it can have on peoples’ mental health, which is now exemplified due to people spending more time on it. The constant exposure we now have to social media has inevitably made viewers more vulnerable to the aspects of it that made people insecure before such as unrealistic body images and lifestyles put out on platforms by influencers and celebrities. This can be especially harmful during this time in which we are spending much more time alone and with our own thoughts.

However, I have also noticed not only the effect increased social media activity can have on viewers but also on influencers too. An important example of this is the posts that influencers, such as Imogen Horton and Kate Hayes, have recently put on Instagram detailing the horrific online hate and abuse they have received in the past few weeks during lockdown. This perhaps shows how people spending more time on social media has led to the amount of hateful comments being posted intensifying, and creating more negativity on social media.

All influencers are exposed to hate and online abuse due to the vulnerable position they put themselves in, open to receiving opinion from viewers. But this is still wrong. Sometimes people feel as if social media is so far away from reality that the people on the other end are not humans who feel the same as we do. I feel as though the increased time people have had on social media has allowed hateful people to also have more time to pick out flaws of others online, perhaps as entertainment, which is a negative of social media during this time.

A last negative I feel the increased time on social media has brought is the pressure to be productive. Seeing people on social media doing all sorts of productive things with their time during lockdown can be positive and inspirational but it can also lead to people feeling unfulfilled and demotivated, feeling like they need to work for the sake of it. I am not immune to this feeling, as now that I have finished university for the remainder of the year, I sometimes feel at a loss and as if I should be doing more with my time even if I am unsure what this is I should be doing.

Rest, recuperate and relax especially considering the whirlwind 2020 has been so far!

I think it is important to remember that you are not the only person feeling like this and whilst it is important to keep your brain active and educated, it is also important to rest, recuperate and relax especially considering the whirlwind 2020 has been so far! As many people have said, the best ideas usually come to you when you are relaxed, and your mind is clear, so relaxing can also be a way to actually increase your productivity and become motivated.

Social media will always have both positives and negatives depending on how it is used. However, I feel that it is important to remember that not everything posted online is 100% accurate and truthful so you should not allow it to affect the image you have of your life or your productivity. My advice is to not spend too much time online and instead go on walks or sit in the garden with your family. Ultimately, do not get caught up in the online world instead of appreciating the beautiful world around you.

Isabelle Raikes

Featured image courtesy of Blogtrepreneur via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 1 courtesy of @Amber_Davies7 via Twitter. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @Imogenation_ via Twitter. No changes were made to this image. 

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