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At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing, stay-at-home orders and lockdowns forced just about everyone to shelter in place.

Work and school transitioned from in-person to remote while concerts and entertainment shows came to a halt, movie theaters closed and Hollywood found itself unable to shoot new episodes of our favorite television shows.

These unprecedented events left many to rely on the internet — specifically social media — for entertainment.

Now, as year three of the pandemic begins, many have returned to in-person work and school, restaurants have reopened and people are flocking to concerts and sporting events — and social media trends will likely dominate our conversations, regardless of how long COVID-19 remains a force. 

“The COVID-19 era openness and authenticity have become trademarks of social media,” said Harriet Chan, co-founder and marketing director of the person-lookup website CoCoFinder.

“The pandemic has amplified existing trends like remote work and online shopping and another trend that has accelerated is the reversal of social media as a place of perfection,” Chan said. 

She noted that social media posts became less artificial and romanticized during the pandemic.

“Houses were a mess, kids were home and misbehaving and no one wore makeup,” she said. “And it made it to social media. The raw, unpolished side is appealing and will stay. The idea of the perfect influencer is gone.”

COVID-19 affected “every walk of our lives,” said Lynda Fairly, a co-founder of the Numlooker marketing firm. As the pandemic wore on, keeping up with social media trends became normal, she said.

“When most of the world was following full or partial lockdown, social media feeds were filled with creative content. Videos of people doing cooking, art, or other hobby work were in abundance,” said Fairly, who also pointed to a “huge surge” in motivational speakers on various platforms.

“People were talking about mental wellness and health more openly. However, content spreading positivity and self-love received the most attention,” she said. “It worked because when the pandemic happened, the world needed positivity. So the short content reached its all-time peak and forced Instagram to launch Reels.”

With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter battling over an ever-growing user list, TikTok appeared to captivate the younger generation as well as health care and other professionals.

“Many of those people used it as a platform to voice their frustrations in a fun manner. However, others used it to bring across a much more serious message which often revolved around getting vaccinated, wearing masks and other health advice from licensed doctors,” said Linnea Labs, an executive at Pearl Lemon PR. 

“There was a huge trend of professionals jumping onto TikTok to share advice,” including many licensed doctors, teachers, flight attendants, emergency room staff, nurses and lawyers, Labs said.

Trending topics usually took the proverbial edge off for much of a stressed-out world. But some trends will live in infamy, Labs recalled.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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