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Social Isolation And Social Media, A Toxic Combination

Do we need to see influencers in their designer pajamas?

Working the screens
Working the screens
Maria Hunstig

MUNICH — Every day feels like it lasts a month. The constant news alerts are overwhelming and our own attitude towards the coronavirus changes by the minute. "Give me a break!" we want to shout at the relentless updates. But there's one place where anyone looking for a bit of rest and relaxation... certainly won't find it: Social media.

Social distancing, of course, only applies to physical meet-ups and not to social media, so there has been an increase in online activity since isolation measures were introduced. There are still plenty of photos to post from within your own four walls. People are now using the hashtag #FromWhereIWork to show off the beautifully designed home office where they're opening their Macbook and sipping third-wave coffee from a ceramic mug – only breaking off for #MealPrep, whipping up a bowl of avocado, spinach and beluga lentils for lunch. They're sharing the #ViewFromMyWindow, a glimpse of their garden or a spectacular sunset, and a quick video of their personal #AtHomeWorkout.

The most effective way to convince others to follow suit is to issue a challenge, and the online community has dreamt up plenty over the past few days. Friends and followers are challenged to share their home offices, baking creations, cute photos of their kids, to take part in a quick-change challenge on Tiktok or post a photo of their current "work from home" fashion choices on Instagram.

Where is all the content coming from if no one is going shopping or leaving the house?

You'd be forgiven for thinking social isolation would have put an end to the parade of fashion photos on Instagram. The platform is best known for its highly filtered, rose-tinted (often paid) photos of outfits, so where is all the content coming from if no one is going shopping or leaving the house? The truth is there are still plenty of designer clothes around, as well as tips from influencers and stars who are posting every day from their balconies.

Last week, Mariah Carey posted a message with the #IStayHomeFor hashtag attached to a completely authentic photo of herself and her children in pajamas... although her PJs had a Louis Vuitton monogram and she was flawlessly made up. The next day she posted again — this time singing on the cross trainer in her home gym, dressed in a glittery Gucci shirt, sunglasses and gloves. Cathy Hummels took to social media looking fresh as ever doing yoga in a floaty skirt, and Karlie Kloss appeared in a sports bra and perfect eyeliner, calling for people to do a 10-minute work-out.


Woman wearing a face mask browses her phone in the streets during quarantine Photo: Serhii Hudak

All these prettified feel-good messages from self-isolation can get a bit tiresome. It's great that social media can be a way to share important messages, find creative solutions to problems, show solidarity and keep people connected.

But there are plenty of us who don't feel like posting a selfie after 18 Zoom meetings and 29 Slack calls. We don't want to film home yoga sessions that show us sweaty and red-faced in old joggers, or clean the house to host a virtual dinner with friends. For those of us who'd rather sit and stare at the wall while eating frozen chips, it can feel like we're shut out.

There is already enough to be stressed about at the moment, without adding social pressure to the mix. But if, after weeks of self-isolation and living in jogging bottoms, you want to dress up and slap on a load of make-up for your morning video conference, go ahead. These days, anything goes.

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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