Pop Culture in the Time of Coronavirus and Quarantine

During+Sydney+McCall%27s+free+time%2C+she+watches+Tik+Toks+that+includes+her+interests+of+fishing+and+country+music.

During Sydney McCall's free time, she watches Tik Toks that includes her interests of fishing and country music.

Kiara Johnston, Staff

Social media and streaming platforms have some place in a lot of people’s lives, and with the pandemic disrupting many aspects of how we live and having almost 5 months off from school, some people saw their social media usage skyrocket. 

One extremely popular app among Gen Z and Millennials is Tik Tok, an app where users can do dances, perform skits, or involve themselves in political discourse, all packed into a 60 second video. In 2020, Tik Tok saw their usage go up 200% since 2019, where it increased 100% from 2018. Senior Olivia Crawn says she started using Tik Tok in July of 2019, but her usage substantially increased when school got out in March and the country really started to feel the impact of COVID 19. When Olivia first downloaded Tik Tok, she only watched videos instead of creating them, but when she started gaining followers, she started to create her own content. With an impressive 66,500 followers, Olivia hopes to continue to grow her follower count, and hopefully use that as a platform to start a Youtube channel when she graduates. By starting this channel, she hopes to earn money by doing what she loves: making people around the country laugh and gain enjoyment from her creativity. When asked why she enjoys using Tik Tok, senior Sydney McCall said, “I enjoy using Tik Tok because I like what pops up on my “For You” page, which includes fishing, country boys, and country music.” In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has announced his plans of banning the app, citing concerns of inadequate security from the Chinese app. The opposing side says the security risks are no more substantial than other apps like Facebook and Instagram; nonetheless, President Trump stands by his decision to sign an executive order banning the app in September if it is not bought by an American company.

Another area of Internet usage that gained popularity was streaming services that include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon. An “Invoke” online study found that 75% of respondents said their usage of streaming services surged during the pandemic. One docuseries that captured much of the sports world was “The Last Dance,” which focused on basketball player Michael Jordan’s early life and his great career in the NBA. Noah Johnston, a senior of Twin Lakes, watched the series in late July when it came out on Netflix. He says he watched it to see if he was the best of all time, but still holds the opinion that it is in fact, Lebron James. When asked whether he liked it, he said he did because he learned untold stories and facts about Michael Jordan’s life and career. Jenna Swaim watched the T.V. series “Sweet Magnolias” on Netflix in mid-June, and said she liked the show because it is “sweet and cute.”

While recent times of illness, uncertainty, and divisive politics have shaken many people in the country and even the world, many people find comfort in funny videos or shows about tigers or vampires. These platforms can play a huge part in how we think and act, and while many underestimate the power and influence of social media, it has changed lives, warped opinions, and completely transformed how people think of the world. While it has its downsides and adverse effects, in many ways social media allows for people to come together and find what they have in common. Movie or T.V. show streaming services have also provided people comfort in these very trying times. Depending on how they are used, these platforms can have a very negative or very positive impact on our world.