Social through screens; a new normal.
With society in lockdown, we are adapting to use virtual connections more than ever before. Our conferences in boardrooms have become telephone calls from our kitchens, team meetings have become invaded with children and pets, and after work drinks have become quizzes on Zoom. In some ways, being out of the office has disconnected us, and we all miss saying hello in the lift or catching up whilst making a coffee. However, in other ways, we have never been so in touch. Social Networks such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok are flooded with colleagues challenging each other to run or dance for charity on the weekend, to dress-up at home, and to share stories of how we are all coping indoors. We are bakers, teachers, runners and office builders and we are sharing each of these experiences through our screens.
Whilst social media has been thriving for years, it is in these last few months we have really begun to appreciate what it can do for the better. It has become a support system. I find myself liking and commenting on colleagues’ and friends’ posts more than usual; checking-in and making sure they are doing ok at home. Previously, we have been warned away from screen-time and made aware of the negative impact it can have on our mental health. Whilst these risks remain, I have seen a change in how social media is being used. Newsfeeds are no longer showing-off what holidays we are on or what restaurants we are going to, but instead a reminder that we are all in this together, even when apart. Different law firms are being united through online events and virtual challenges. Different departments are encouraging each other’s successes and creativity. Different ideas are coming forward to figure out how we can make this work. As it becomes more difficult to distinguish our home lives from our work lives, we are sharing the two. Telling colleagues about details of our homes which we never shared before, and seeing into our family members’ working day routine. Whilst this cross-over is temporary and we will one day return to the office, a change in our ways will definitely last. I hope we continue to share and encourage through social media, and recognise the good it can bring when used correctly. Our networks have no limit when we adapt and recognise it is all still possible, just in a different way.
This time has allowed us to stop the commutes. It has helped us to appreciate our homes and communities. Yet it has also shown us how to share our experiences in new ways. Whilst I cannot wait to go to a coffee shop or to see my colleagues in person, I know we have become more connected in other ways. Socialising through screens has never been so positive, and we may have changed the future on building virtual connections for good.
Article written by Grace Mullis, Trainee Solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP. Grace is currently in her second seat in Medical Negligence and Abuse Law. Grace is a founding member of the firm’s Social Media Group which aims to develop relationships with colleagues, clients and the wider community through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. See what they’ve been up to by following @Community_IM and @GraceMullis_IM on Twitter.