Finding Connection During the Coronavirus Shutdown

It’s a terrifying time. Not only are we all concerned with making sure we and our loved ones stay healthy and safe, but many have lost jobs, businesses, and their livelihood for the unforeseen future.

With social distancing and sheltering in place becoming our (temporary) new normal, it can be easy to forget our interconnectedness. In some ways, we are fortunate to have something of this caliber happen in modern times, where access to other humans is never more than a click away. At its best, social media can connect us and open up a bigger conversation we might not otherwise have. With that in mind, we’re providing a handy guide to how to show up for each other on social media in these uncertain times.

Facts > Fear

We’re all scared, and that’s totally okay. Panic and fear are normal reactions. That’s our reptilian brain saying “Danger, danger! Buy all the toilet paper you can get your hands on!” But the more developed parts of our brain, like the prefrontal cortex, are wired for connecting with others and feeling empathy. How does this translate to social media?

There’s a line between staying woke and buying into fear-mongering. Think about that before posting. Make sure what you’re posting is factually correct, and also ask yourself if it’s something that needs to be said. Are you adding to the climate of anxiety, or are you helping ease it? Are you informing or fanning the flames?

Example A: MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE! I SAW A CHART! EVERY PERSON FOR THEMSELVES #survivalofthefittest

Example B: I’m feeling a little lonely, and maybe you guys are too. Who wants to FaceTime? @ me if you need some love.

Don’t be Example A. Example A has thousands of jugs of water and hundreds of loaves of bread they’re hoarding. Nobody wants to be friends with Example A.

Look for the Helpers

Mr. Rogers’ mom responded to scary news by telling him, “Look for the helpers.” The cool thing is, you can be one of those helpers. There are an untold amount of elderly and immunocompromised people living in your town or city who are too afraid to go to the grocery store. If you have a car (and we all have the time), make a post volunteering to deliver food to any of your followers or friends of followers who might not have access right now.

Good Vibes

What can you post that creates unity and connection? The video of people in Italy singing out their windows went super viral because, despite all of our fear, we really long to be moved and inspired. If you’re a creator, use this time to make some content that will uplift—an amusing video, a heartfelt song. Or just post something you’ve found that will give someone a bit of respite.

Sending self-distanced virtual hugs!

Livestream

If you have an event that has been affected by everything going dark, consider livestreaming. People are at home and want entertainment and distraction. Were your comedy shows cancelled? Your play? Your concert? Put it on Instagram or Facebook Live, and suggest people Venmo you instead of paying for tickets. It’s a great way to keep making your art and stay connected with your audience.

Hivemind

Now could be a great time to find an online community. Do Facebook Recommendations or tweet out a question, like what books to read or shows to binge watch. You can find others who share your tastes and maybe make new friends. Start a blog about something you care about—it’s a great creative exercise and could help connect you to others who care about the same things. Tweet out an offer to make Spotify playlists for your music-loving followers.

Takin’ Care of Business

For businesses, it can be difficult to navigate these treacherous virus-y waters. How do you keep promoting your products without seeming insensitive? The best advice is to be sensitive with your posts. People can sense if you’re being disingenuous or opportunistic. Let’s look at some examples:

Example A: Is the #coronavirus giving you mad chills? Now is the time to get our awesome artisan blankets! They’ll keep you warm before and after that fever breaks. Act now for 20% off!

Example B: Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the #coronavirus. That’s why we’re offering you 20% off our artisan blankets, and giving a portion of all proceeds to the @AmericanRedCross and @DoctorsWithoutBorders. #StayInside #StayWell

It’s hard to know what to do or how to show up in such an unprecedented time. But let your North Star be this: we’re all connected, and you have the power to radiate that connection and help people feel a little less alone. And that means a lot in the era of social distancing. Social media is our window to the world and to each other—it’s more important now than ever. Go forth and deepen your friendships, make new ones, and remember that we’re better together.