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Is Social Distancing Making Us Antisocial?

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R/GA’s Chapin Clark and BuzzFeed’s Katie Notopolous ponder the social implications of quarantine life

Is Social Distancing Making Us Antisocial?

R/GA recently held a podcast with Chapin Clark - the sardonic voice of R/GA’s Twitter and an executive creative director - and BuzzFeed tech reporter Katie Notopoulos, who took on the pulse of online culture. From brands trying to go viral on TikTok to anti-vaxxer mums in Facebook Groups and Twitter stunts, they share wry takes on how lockdown life is changing our social interactions - for better and worse. But mostly worse.

They caught up to chat about how pandemic-imposed social distancing is bringing out the best in some people’s social media behaviour, but they’re mostly dismayed. Take the swirl of misinformation such as instant 'Coronavirus influencers' with shady credentials and '100-tweet threads' who popped up 'out of nowhere', as Notopoulos says. “There's a lot of quarantine-shaming going on,” Clark adds.

They also ponder the rise of brands such as Steak-umm, which made headlines for pontificating on these bizarre times, but could have leaned in on food inspiration, Notopolous argues. Yet they’ve also been finding optimism; they’ve both sought comic relief in the free-spirited dancehall that is TikTok, which Notopoulos says has come into its own as a fun and vibrant platform during the pandemic.

She has also enjoyed connecting with other moms in (non-anti-vaxx) Facebook Groups that are less about impressing and more about helping. “There aren’t verified people who are taking up 90% of the oxygen in the conversation,” she notes. “It's a lot of people looking for advice.” While the social media users they’ve observed have, for the most part, displayed “an impressive amount of resiliency” (after all, “it sucks being inside for months,” as Notopolous says, they’re not optimistic that this time in history will ultimately make social media behaviour kinder or gentler.

To hear more check out their podcast above, and click here for previous podcasts.


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R/GA New York, Thu, 28 May 2020 12:33:21 GMT