Can Social Media Keep Us Connected During Self-Isolation?
Can Social Media Keep Us Connected During Self-Isolation?
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Social media during the Coronavirus era
By now, almost everyone is familiar with the guidelines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 coronavirus. More than half the U.S. population is in a state of lockdown, with people leaving their homes solely for necessities and only working if their business performs functions deemed “essential” by local governing authorities. The term “social distancing,” once an outdated phrase associated with the 1918 flu pandemic, is now a part of everyday conversation.
But what kind of conversations are we having as we practice social distancing? This method of self-isolation to limit the coronavirus outbreak has changed the way we communicate with family, friends, and colleagues. In-person meetings have moved to Zoom or Skype and birthday parties have become Facetime and Duo calls.
Though social media was once considered a factor contributing to feelings of loneliness, these platforms have emerged as a means for personal connection during the current lockdown experience. People are finding ways to socialize online to replace the lack of person-to-person engagement. Entire families have found solace in learning TikTok dances while DJs perform nine-hour musical sets on Instagram Live. Here at VP Legacies, we are focusing on ways to stay connected and maintain important relationships through any hardships you may be experiencing. In today’s post, we’ll explore some ways social media can keep us connected during this time of self-isolation.
There’s no question that social media has a defining place in our lives, especially as we learn to adopt a new lifestyle governed by coronavirus precautions and physical isolation. The CDC has even recognized the important place social media holds in our public consciousness and posted a social media toolkit to ensure correct messaging is being shared online. Why is social media particularly valuable right now as a means of connection?
Connecting through social media can help save money
First, social media exists as an inexpensive means of communication. As mass layoffs sweep the nation, many are feeling the need to save money and focus on connection in a cost-effective manner. Practically every social media app is free to download and use. With applications like Whatsapp, people can make text, video, and voice calls internationally through WiFi rather than getting charged on their phone bills.
Personally Connect with many people at once on social media
Another positive aspect of using social media is the ability to connect with many people in one place. One can find a number of high school acquaintances just by clicking through the “Recommended Friends” list on Facebook. Direct messaging features on Facebook, Instagram and Slack allow the user to connect one-on-one or with a group.
Easily share memories and moments on social media
Sharing media such as photos, memes, images, and video is only a click away on social media. In fact, one can even share the same image across several social media platforms at once. Instagram allows users to share a photo or video on its own platform and simultaneously on Facebook as well as Twitter.
Video chat through social media
While Zoom and Skype are popular for remote meetings in a professional context, some social media apps, such as Facebook or Whatsapp, allow for video chatting in a casual setting. This allows friends with different smartphone devices to connect easily through a shared platform. With one quick download, users can connect with anyone regardless of whether they’re using an iOs or Android system.
A 2019 report showed there are over 3 billion social media users worldwide, which explains the wide array of social media applications on the market today. From networking apps to specialized interests, there are platforms to suit a number of different social needs. Let’s explore some of those communication needs below.
Friends and Family
For staying in touch with friends, family, and the general public, the social media options are endless. Users can choose from platforms depending on whether they want to find old friends, share photos or videos, or meet new people.
Twitter. One of the most popular and enduring forms of social media, Twitter has become an important means of communication for members of the White House, well-known organizations, and international celebrities. Fame notwithstanding, it’s also a great outlet for pithy expressions, status updates, and news bits (there’s a 280 character limit on Twitter posts, also known as tweets) from the everyday user. You can also post images and videos to Twitter, which others can “like” or “repost” for others to see. Use Twitter if you don’t mind strangers following your account and seeing media you upload to the web.
Facebook. Facebook is commonly known as a means of catching up with friends and family members. There are even storiesof long-lost sweethearts that reunited on Facebook. Facebook allows you to keep your pictures and videos private and only connect with friends that you approve to view your profile (just be sure to review your account’s security settings before posting anything). This multifunctioning platform not only enables direct messaging and group messaging but also offers its users the ability to video chat. Learn how here.
Instagram. Instagram allows users to post photos, short and long-form videos, and “Instastories,” which are photos or videos that others can view for a 24-hour period. Instagram acts as a sort of digital photobook that your friends and followers can view, like, and comment on. Instagram Live broadcasts, a live streaming video function, have become a popular feature especially during the current lockdown period as well as IGTV videos that can be uploaded and shared on your profile. As with Facebook, you have the ability to keep your profile private if desired or open to the public depending on your account security settings. Those who enjoy viewing, taking, and sharing photos with friends will likely find Instagram a fun app to try.
Snapchat. If you’ve seen those whimsical selfies of your friends looking like a cartoon character, it’s likely they used a Snapchat account to take the picture. Snapchat is a multimedia messaging app that allows users to message each other, share photos for a 24-hour period, and take wonderfully humorous photos with numerous filters that the company updates on a frequent basis. People who enjoy taking humorous photos that don’t last forever on the web will enjoy this platform. For those who are shy about selfies and are seeking an empowering way to build confidence, check out our course “How To Build A Strong Relationship With Yourself.”
TikTok. TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Generally used to upload very short videos of 15 seconds at most, this app has given people of all ages a reason to get off their couches and learn the latest TikTok dance. It’s also a good place to share video memes, humorous clips, and short announcements to followers. Check out TikTok if you’re looking for short-form entertainment and funny videos to brighten your day. Chances are, a number of your friends are already on the app right now.
Whatsapp. As mentioned briefly in the previous section, Whatsapp allows users to set status updates, send text messages, and make voice and video calls internationally without charge. This function is especially useful when traveling; users can turn off roaming charges on their smartphones and use Whatsapp to communicate across a WiFi network. If you can get your friends and family to download Whatsapp, you can stay in touch no matter where you are with the app’s easy group messaging functions. Sharing video and photos through the messaging service is also simple and easy on the Whatsapp platform.
WeChat. WeChat offers the same features as Whatsapp, messages, voice and video calls, but also boasts a number of other capabilities such as acting as an e-wallet, storing virtual membership cards, providing news updates and top stories, and even allowing for games to be played directly in the app. WeChat can be seen as a number of different apps in one platform.
There are also social media options for keeping in touch with work colleagues, professional contacts, and networking. These applications address different needs and allow you to maintain important communications during this current period of social distancing.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the most popular online networking platforms on the web. Through the app, you can connect with professionals in any industry and share promotional videos, informative blogs, and helpful images with your contacts. LinkedIn also allows you to post your work experience online and search for job postings as well.
Skype. Typically used for online conferences and meetings, Skype has some features that also allow for social interactions. Other than video and voice calls, you can also message colleagues and send media through the messaging system.
Slack. Slack is a versatile messaging application that many modern companies are using to keep team members in close communication. Slack allows your team to use one-on-one messaging and group messaging functions to stay connected and on task with ongoing projects.
Facebook. While Facebook is a great way of staying in touch with friends and relatives, its marketing capabilities are also helpful to companies hoping to promote their services and products. In response to the current outbreak crisis, Facebook has created a grant program to help small businesses stay afloat. Learn more here.
Gchat and Google Hangouts. Available through the Google Mail application, Gchat allows users to chat online with friends and colleagues and share pictures and video. Google Hangouts is also available through Gmail and, like Facebook, can be used for voice and video calls as well.
Other variations of social media platforms may appeal to people who are interested in a specific type of media or topics of interest.
YouTube. YouTube is the biggest video-sharing platform available, offering videos from millions of different users from all over the world. It’s considered social media because you have the opportunity to interact with other users by liking, sharing, and commenting on uploaded videos. Users should be aware that content posted to the comments section can be viewed by the general public.
Poshmark. Poshmark is an online selling platform where users sell used and new items of clothing, accessories, and household items. Those with an account can set up a profile and set up a digital “storefront” for other users to shop from. Users can communicate and comment on each other’s items for sale.
Pinterest. Pinterest is a popular image sharing platform where users can “pin” images they like to their own account. Pinterest is frequently used as a source of inspiration (hence the term “Pinspiration”) for party planners, designers, and crafty DIY enthusiasts. Users can communicate with each other and share images they’ve created or found online.
NextDoor. The NextDoor app was created as a communication hub for members of the nearby community. Many have found it helpful to be in touch with neighbors to stay connected on local events and news. The NextDoor app has also been useful for providing support to others during the outbreak and locating lost pets in the neighborhood.
Ring. The Ring app was originally created as a security application to monitor your property and the nearby vicinity. However, Ring also allows nearby neighbors to post security concerns and possible criminal activity in the community. This allows users who live near each other to stay updated on any suspicious goings-on and keep the neighborhood safe.
How to get started on social media
The first step to getting started on social media means setting up a profile and getting acquainted with the application itself. Don’t be afraid to look up some tutorials online to help set up your social media account. Be sure to check your account’s security settings so that you’re only sharing media with the people you want to see it.
Consider the above list of social media platforms and see which of them fulfills your current social interaction needs. If you have friends or family who are already using social media, ask them for assistance. They’ll likely have lots of advice for which platform is appropriate for you and may turn out to be your first friend on social media.
Once your profile is set up and you’ve checked your account settings, you can start reaching out to others on social media. Be careful not to share your personal information with strangers and don’t share media that might make others uncomfortable. Most social media apps will send you a few recommendations for friends when you join an app like Facebook or Instagram to get you started.
Connect with those you’re close to and don’t be offended if they take a while to respond. Most users have accounts on several different platforms but they may not check their notifications every day. Be patient and soon you may be reconnecting with old friends and relatives from all over the world on social media.
Whether you choose to reach out to friends, family, or professional contacts online, there is likely a social media platform that can help you stay connected during this time of self-isolation. We hope this post gave you inspiration to reach out to your loved ones. While it’s not easy to catch up with friends while social distancing, social media technology offers us many creative opportunities to maintain the relationships we value most.
If you’re hoping to make new friends as well, consider taking an online course to meet classmates and helpful instructors. At VP Legacies, you can join a friendly community of people hoping to connect, just like you. Try our free course, “How To Connect in the Midst of a Global Pandemic,” available live daily on both Facebook and Instagram.
Have you wanted to learn how to change strangers into friends, friends into best friends and create a personal connection with anyone?