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Lockdown – The great equaliser?

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The headline is a little tongue-in-cheek obviously. As globally, more and more people are at risk of losing their livelihoods as a result of lockdown measures. If anything, the divide between classes is getting wider.

I was mortified to find out that school closures in the UK has undone the hard work of the last 20 years in equalising education between the middle class and the disadvantaged children. That is a whole two decades of hard work, which is likely to take another two decades and then some to put back right. Likewise, the chasm between the upper middle class and working class keep growing as daily job cuts and redundancies announced.

On the other hand, if we move away from real world for a while and look at the make-believe world of social media, the eerie silence on my feed that kicked off around late March continues. Gone are the selfies from glitzy parties and red carpet receptions, the sunset capture from the tell-tale first class window seat of an airplane simply captioned #wanderlust.

Gone also are the endless stream of ‘sausages or legs’ photos or a pair of legs snapped from where the owner of the legs is sunbathing somewhere faraway and exotic, with the cerulean sea or pool in the background or a couple of cocktails haphazardly places on a table nearby. Only just making a comeback are the birds eye view of plates of #foodporn taken at a fancy restaurant. Even then, as more of us opt for take-aways than dining out, these are now often far less staged shots of take-away food in foil delivery boxes.

Some friends I know, who travel weekly and share their photos of each single pit stop on the way, complete with camping stove and enamel mugs against a backdrop of wilderness were initially conspicuously absent from my feed, then began sharing photos of their home makeover. Only recently have they hit the road again, back to original programming. A former colleague, who rarely shared anything on her social media, now under lock and key, found solace in an endless stream of #throwback photos of her travels, her message, loud, clear and almost desperate, seemingly saying, “I may be stuck at home but there was a time I could travel to all these far-flung destinations.”

The fashion set have also been similarly idle – gone are the days of shopping almost daily and posting images of the #lookoftheday every single day. With all shopping outlets under lockdown and most of the world lounging in track suits, there was little room or lust for glamour and even Anna Wintour, the high priestess of high fashion shared a photo of herself on social media in her tracksuit. Admittedly, hers were still designer.

The beauty sets were affected too and to a certain extent, they still are, with most beauty salons not yet back to being fully operational. It has been either a case of DIY manicures of no make-up selfies.

I spared a thought recently for those people we often see on social media who seem to have no visible income stream yet take some sort of perverse pleasure in sharing photos of first class travel, five star hotels and hobnobbing with influencers without being one, while spewing motivational quotes about life, business or income generation. It must surely be hard to form ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ when there are no flights, no events and hotel closures. How is one to front like they have any legitimate business when they have turned socially showing off into a line of business but with very little to show off?

I have truly enjoyed this time where I have got to see a more authentic side to many people on social media – snaps of family dinners, games with kids, undyed hair, tracksuit bottoms, and not a single piece of designer luggage or fake lashes in sight.

Lockdown has been a great equaliser on social media. While it probably won’t last long, it’s been good while it did.


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