In my first blog post I talked about The Coronavirus and the sense of fear. The post was published one month ago, when #IAmNotAVirus became a viral campaign through social media platforms, fighting against discrimination, misinformation and the known as “fear state”. Today, schools, parks, universities, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and events are being cancelled and shut down all around the globe. Adding to these measures, there is also the imposed access control on shoppers entering grocery stores, the increased demand for food supplies and the empty streets in most of the cities around the world.
Even though there has been announced that most coronavirus related cases can be treated, with nearly 70,000 people having recovered from coronavirus, and a 3.4% Mortality Rate estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of March 3, the fear of the unknown consequences of the outbreak and the panic spread in societies reminds us of the importance of collaborating in the rationalization of the fear in order to avoid social alarm within our communities.
In addition, in the middle of this COVID-19 global fear, health experts are insisting on the need to follow preventive measures to contain the rapid transmission of the Coronavirus. In order to communicate this message and reach a higher amount of people, doctors and nurses in Spain started disseminating the social campaign #QuedateEnCasa or #StayAtHome in English, which aims to convince citizens to stay inside their houses, avoid going outside and act with responsibility.
Beginning with this video, which has become viral on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, health professionals such as Sandra García Botella and Francisco Javier Candell are asking citizens to join the challenge of remaining at home, “For the good of all and to prevent the health system from a total collapse”.
Politicians, singers, actresses and other celebrities are actively joining the campaign, (which is now a trending topic on Twitter, Instagram and Chat Apps) and the goal of raising awareness about the importance of reducing social contact between people.
Hence, following up on my last post “Digital activism in the urban cycling movement”, there is an intertwined relationship between the use of NICTs and the organization of collective action through the use of social media and Chat apps, expressed pragmatically with the Coronavirus outbreak throughout #QuedateEnCasa campaign.
In this case, chat applications such as WhatsApp are acting as “semi-public platforms” where interpersonal communication mixes with group interactions, building relations of trust and engaging its members to take action. Additionally, WhatsApp has high penetration rates in the Global South, being the primary venue for political conversations and offering a more inclusive type of communication.
The following video shows the mobilization of people following up a call to action diffused through WhatsApp as part of the #QuedateEnCasa campaign.
An anonymous message started to be shared between WhatsApp users in Spain, calling for people at their homes to go out to the balcony at a certain time and start applauding all together to express their gratitude and support to the medical staff who are fighting this outbreak. The message says: “TRIBUTE TO ALL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS, SUPERMARKETS, TRANSPORTATION, CLEANING, MIGRATION CENTERS, SENIORS, MINORS, WOMEN, SOCIAL SERVICES … to those who currently support life. 💕💞 AT 10 pm on March 14, let’s go out to our windows, terraces and balconies and applaud. Please, share this message with your contacts. ✨”. This was the result:
In the previous video, we can observe how the message disseminated throughout new digital platforms as part of #QuedateEnCasa campaign portrays a type of digital activism or cyber-activism (Sádaba & Gordo, 2008) which generate a sense of community, organizing and involving hundreds of people in a physical manner. This campaign has brought a non-homogenized group of citizens to line up for a shared cause and to show their solidarity and consolidation, an action originated throughout social media and chat applications.
At the same time, people participating in #QuedateEnCasa campaign are pro-sumers of the information disseminated, reducing the costs of production and consumption of the content and strengthening their internal communication through a type of content that can be reached by more people.
Members of these social initiatives can be also considered what is known as “WhatsAppers” or producers and consumers of information that induce political debate, participation and new social realities.
Thus, social actors and activists are operating through digital resources, creating spaces of dialogue, debate and social interaction. In this context, chat apps offer a more “secure space” for expressing political views and coordinating participation, mobilizing people and diffusing the newest updates of the spread of COVID-19.
Solidarity actions and the digitalization of leisure during the Coronavirus Quarantine
In the era of hyper-connectivity we live in, many leisure activities are being digitized. Examples that emerged during the Coronavirus Quarantine are social campaigns taking place in Spain throughout new digital platforms to join #QuedateEnCasa, where people are being able to experience at home as if they were physically visiting a museum or going to a concert, a library or a theatre.
These are some of the digital initiatives taking place:
Free access to the most popular Spanish magazines
The editorial group “Heartz Spain” has announced free access to all its publications on its nineteen magazines (Diez Minutos, Cosmopolitan and ELLE Gourmet, among others) to support #QuedateEnCasa campaign under the vision of “No one to feel alone at home in the face of this global challenge.” Here you can access to all Heartz´s magazines.
The music industry joining digital live shows
Following all cancellation and postponements of concerts and musical festivals, Todo INDIE has launched the first “Yo me quedo en casa” or “I stay at home Festival” this last weekend with the participation of more than forty different artists to support #QuedateEnCasa campaign.
Throughout their Instagram profiles, all artists involved will launch their concerts and interact with the audiences to perform their favourite songs or most wanted discographies.
All news related to the organization of the events is updated through the new social media profile “yomequedoencasafestival” which already counts with 167k followers.
The Theater Documentation Center of the Spanish Minister of Culture is offering more than a thousand plays of all genres. Anyone who is subscribed to the Royal Theatre of Madrid or My Opera Player can enjoy any live performance from their living rooms by accessing to the Teatroteca platform.
In addition, the most famous museums in Madrid such as El Padro, El Reina Sofia y El Thyssen as well as other museums around the world like the Vatican Museum in Rome, the Archaeological Museum in Athens, the Louvre Museum of Paris or the British Museum in London are also joining #QuedateEnCasa campaign by offering audiovisual content through their social media platforms and websites, broadcasting explanations about their paintings and different exhibitions.
Free reading, films, boardgames and indoors work out
Anyone who has a library card can enjoy accessing the efilm catalogue and watching their favourite movies while staying at home. Besides, some Spanish cartoonists are uploading their comics and books for free through Twitter and other digital platforms. And, if wanting to exercise but all the gyms are closed, Chat Apps are also difundiendo material such “The 32 best exercise routines to do at home”
Nos unimos al movimiento #YoMeQuedoEnCasa regalando la guía de los 32 mejores circuitos para hacer en casa. Descárgate gratis el PDF con más de 180 ejercicios en https://t.co/eqwBlIuAr6 ¡Sé solidario, quédate en casa y ponte más en forma! pic.twitter.com/JPsGh3PnSr
— Sport Life España (@sportlife_es) March 13, 2020
English translation, post by @sportlife_es:
“We join the #YoMeQuedoEnCasa movement by giving for free the guide with the 32 best routine exercises to do at home. Download the PDF with more than 180 exercises for free at https://sportlife.deporticket.com/ Be supportive, stay home and get fitter!” Posted by @sportlife_es
All these digital social initiatives remind us how powerful NICTs can be when disseminating a message or campaign, involving hundreds of people in a cyber-activism that shares a sense of community, support and common cause.
And why not, NICTs can also share a bit of humour. Perhaps this is a good moment to enjoy being at home, with the company of our most beloved ones?
English translation: “Is this the number 112? – How can I catch the famous virus? – I can´t bear my grandchildren anymore – I prefer to pass away, yes.” Illustration by Merino @merimonas
How are you living the Coronavirus quarantine? Are you also part of #QuedateEnCasa campaign? Share your inputs and leave a comment below!