Discovering social goodness in times of social distancing

Priyunka Maheshwari

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has drastically upended how we function both individually and together as a society. With nearly every country in the world recommending extreme social distancing measures, the majority of us spend most of the day within the confines of our homes, limiting our interactions with family and friends.

Social connectedness is directly tied to our physical and mental health, and as a result of social distancing, much of the world has experienced increased loneliness, boredom, and frustration. Luckily, access to advanced technology makes it possible to mitigate some of these negative effects. Across social media, brands and individuals have found ways to stay connected and provide pockets of joy amid an otherwise turbulent landscape.

Virtual connections have brought joy to many remote workers — even those who are home with their families. These moments can remind us that we may be physically distant, but we are not alone. Here are a few ways social goodness has shone through in times of social distancing:

Providing free entertainment

You can only watch the same movie so many times. Disney+ announced it was adding Frozen 2 to its online streaming platform, and the new film adaptation of Emma became available on-demand despite being released less than a month prior.

Although concerts have been canceled across the world, that hasn’t stopped musical artists from sharing their talents with the world. John Legend announced he would be broadcasting a live concert from his home (following the lead of Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin). Meanwhile, the musical duo Sofi Tukker streamed a live concert on Facebook, much to the delight of their audience, some of whom called it the “bright spot” in their day.

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Paying it forward and giving back

Many were unable to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the way they typically do at bars and parades, so Guinness pledged to give $500,000 back to local communities. Individual celebrities have also offered to support the salaries of employees who can no longer work and provided donations to charities. Glamour published an uplifting article compiling many of the ways that celebrities are giving back.

Offering an Audience

The cancellation of professional sporting events and sold-out concerts may have made the headlines, but smaller events and community performances have been impacted by COVID-19 as well. Broadway actress and singer Laura Benanti invited young performers to share their high school musical routines with her, and Jennifer Garner encouraged disappointed performers to let the show go on… from home.

Sharing knowledge and expert resources

Though we live in an era where information is readily available via the internet, sometimes it’s hard to know what to search for or where to start. Entrepreneur Danny Buck tweeted that he would help small restaurants set up free ecommerce websites. Meanwhile, Bill Gates hosted an AMA on Reddit to share his advice and perspective around the crisis.

Building Live Connections

In addition to workers staying connected virtually through tools like Zoom and Slack, many friendships have used digital tools to stay in the loop. Likewise, users have widely shared Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension that allows users to simultaneously stream content as a group.

The closure of gyms and studios has also required the fitness community to get creative, with individual instructors hosting live workouts on Instagram. Even nationwide chains like Peloton have offered free on-demand classes for ninety days.

Not being able to leave home hasn’t stopped groups of friends from enjoying their regular happy hours. YouTubers Natalie and Tara, for example, hosted a St. Patrick’s Day-themed live stream and invited viewers around the world to join them in an at-home celebration.

As you navigate the challenges and limitations of social distancing, make sure you’re finding your own ways to connect with others virtually. Host your own virtual happy hour, join in on live dance workouts to boost your endorphin levels, and don’t be afraid to share your strategies for staying connected on social media.

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