Our nation is currently divided on how to handle Covid-19 and the media coverage is less than comforting. Fortunately, social media has once again saved the day and brought people together more than ever before while quarantined. As people began to practice social distancing, social media usage increased as a way to stay connected.
How distance brings us together
The entertainment industry is not exempt when it comes to making changes to accommodate Covid-19. Some of music’s most iconic names have used their talent to bring people together by doing Instagram live battles. Starting with Timbaland vs Swizz Beatz, other artists like Ne-Yo vs. Johntá Austin, T-Pain vs Lil Jon, and Teddy Riley vs Babyface have battled it out hit for hit. Viewers were able to enjoy the free concert and a healthy dose of nostalgia from the comfort of their homes while quarantined. Teddy Riley and Babyface’s battle even caused the Instagram servers to crash due to the largest live audience in history. In addition to watching the battles, viewers were able to feel a sense of community through Instagram’s chat feature where users can interact with each other and other celebrities that tuned in.
Other artists like Tory Lanez have also used Instagram Live to entertain followers while quarantined. His shows feature celebrity check-ins, dance and talent competitions as well as a music segment. Due to the success of Quarantine Radio on Instagram, MTV offered an opportunity to take the show to television. There aren’t many details on what the televised show will look like in its final form. However, you can’t deny that the creativeness and the “right place at the right time” factor has a lot to do with the success and popularity of Quarantine Radio.
Competition for a cause
Many public figures have also used social media to spread the word about the All in Challenge Foundation (AICF), a digital fundraiser whose mission is to combat food insecurity. The AICF is working especially hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many facilities that provide meals to students, the elderly or unemployed persons, are closed due to social distancing. The fundraiser works by having celebrities auction off once in a lifetime experiences or prizes while challenging their celebrity friends to do the same. Rapper, Megan thee Stallion is auctioning a feature in a music video. Kevin Durant is offering courtside seats, dinner and his 2006-2007 Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year trophy. Other celebrities, from movie directors to sports professionals, have offered up exclusive prizes for people to bid on, all with the goal of fighting food insecurity during Covid-19.
A need for distraction while quarantined
There are people who might feel slighted by celebrities speaking out about their trials during the pandemic. Is it valid to question a famous person’s ability to empathize with the struggles of their fans just because they have more financial resources? Yes, it might be easier to be quarantined in a house with a gym or an indoor pool; however, when you think about it, their jobs are to entertain whether that be through acting, music, playing sports, etc. By choosing to show support to those in need through social media, they’re also satisfying the public’s need for distraction.
Throughout history, whenever there was a time of strife in this country, people found ways to distract themselves from the harsh realities of the world around them. During the Great Depression, people read about celebrities in gossip columns. Some people watched dance marathons where the contestants danced until they dropped on the floor from exhaustion. Although Covid-19 is not the Great Depression, millions of people have filed for unemployment benefits in the past month. Others have lost friends and family members to complications from the virus. These celebrities are providing the well-needed service of distraction and catharsis through social media in this period of fear and uncertainty. One can only imagine what this will mean for the way we consume social media content once the pandemic ends.