2020: A Call For Community
This new need to use technology to connect to the outside world brought on a surge of exploration for many people. This surge was both a desperate call for help and understanding, as well as an awakening. One that forced people to take a second look at the information and influencers they followed online and the value they were receiving from those sources.
2020— *Enter* thousands of people, forced into physical isolation. Young, old, employed, unemployed (mostly the latter) flocked to online, social, and community-based platforms. Some used these platforms to “feel” social connection, others to pass the time, to entertain. For many though, they became a much-needed lifeline of support throughout the pandemic.
In a time where overnight, our morning dose of serotonin came more from the exciting social interaction of answering, “What can I get you?” instead of that iced white mocha, extra caramel drizzle itself — we changed. Day to day life and routine comforts, normally so predictable (maybe even boringly so), ceased to exist.
A lot of it stopping from our own volition, as well. If you wanted to protect yourself, your loved ones, you stayed home. Plain and simple. In a way, it forced people to gain more autonomy over their lives. To take action, and make choices on what to let into and out of their every day. A choice we usually don’t have in outside environments.
PICTURE THIS: It’s 2 a.m. in NYC— the A train stalls, two people (a student and a creative), both struggling and lost, become stuck alone in a car…
Post-pandemic life created a type of universal empathetic and supportive mindset that could only result from worldwide tragedy. The trauma and confusion became a shared experience everyone could relate to. And what followed was a universal call for community. A race to find shared interests, to explore the world (now virtually), and motivate ourselves and move forward — even while sitting still.
As someone plugged into both student and creative networks, when March 2020 came around, I felt the “pull” for community the most within them.
👩💻POV: The Student
Suddenly, students went from dreading library study sessions to absolutely craving them. Even studying silently in a student lounge is light years better than sitting alone in your room with only the company of the scribbled notes you took from a pre-recorded lecture and a cold message to a student who you think is in your class, open on Facebook.
Study With Me
Enter — coping mechanisms! One I thought particularly interesting was the “Study With Me” videos students started to make on Youtube. Simple reels or time-lapsed views of a lone person sitting at their desk typing away and studying. Soundtracks of chill study vibes, lo-fi beats, focus music, etc. played in the background. Ironically, even though these people are alone the setting seems to make the whole experience more “intimate” and connected.
These videos aren’t short videos either — some are on marathon study session-level mode. Anywhere up to 5–7 hour sprints you can “take” with that other person on the screen so you don’t feel so alone. Even the popular productivity technique, Pomodoro, has been included in some of these videos. With break and rest time you can follow along with! You can also get some #studyblr inspiration with setups like MDProspect’s below.
💡POV: The Creative
2020 also brought a new perspective to the creative community. Especially it’s followers. In NY in particular, it seems like everyone is a “creator” on the side. What were side hustles though, became critical sources of income when the pandemic hit and millions lost their jobs.
Since the rise of technology and social media platforms, the label “creator” has become more broadly used. Creative people aren’t now just the artists and sculptors producing physical works of art. No, that slightly intense, neighborhood kid filming ASMR videos of their day exploring the forest behind their house is also a creator.
Personally, I love that the term has expanded to include and take on a diverse range of interests and forms. To me, it’s all really just an information exchange of knowledge and experiences from different perspectives and disciplines. Yes, some creators are also just known for their personal brands — who they are, what they think, where they live. But who’s to say other people can’t find value in those things as well?
With the pandemic and increased exploration into the knowledge and goods people can share through technology, came increased attention to the impact of this information on our lives.
Supporting Creatives, Patronage = Patreon
With any exchange of value, there’s usually an exchange of currency. This currency doesn’t have to be in dollars ($$), it can be in time, education, support, etc. Which in 2020, people paid more attention to.
Before platforms such as Patreon, creators were subject to the whims of advertising agencies and social media algorithms to gain any type of financial support to continue producing and sharing their work with the world. In this new model, however, individuals can show their support and subscribe to creators (for a fee) to receive access to their work.
As Patreon states on its website, creators can use their platform for exclusive collections of work, specialized content, or even custom chats and feedback.
“You give them access to exclusive content, community, and insight into your creative process. In exchange, you get the freedom to do your best work, and the stability you need to build an independent creative career.”
However, in an interview by the Guardian, writer Laurie Penny admits that even after her “big, involved plans” got canceled due to personal circumstances, her community still supported her because they genuinely appreciated her work and wanted to see what she could do with their support.
This surprised Penny at the time, but in the context of 2020, I think a lot of creators will find themselves in similar positions this new year. 2020, marked a time where people started investing more in their knowledge and entertainment sources. Now, isolated at home, on their devices, and scanning the internet all day, I think people are becoming more selective and thoughtful about what and who they are following.
It’s all about support, giving, and providing value this year — building and supporting communities. I only hope it continues into 2021, and we all find new ways to stand together, learn with each other, and pay attention to the information and value we are receiving from the technology we subscribe to.