In 2021, many things have changed since we first came across the worst disaster in the history of mankind without knowing when it will end. Now vaccines are being supplied worldwide to get us out of this deep dark tunnel, and technology brought us a new lifestyle adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic era. Last year, however, it was total chaos. People were seized with fear and struggling so hard to get used to a new circumstance that we haven’t met before. Do you remember how it was and what was trending? You can figure it out from YouTube’s 2020 search report.
Last year, YouTube has published a compilation of the most frequently searched content topics since the pandemic began. This is especially intriguing because the statistics reveal the trends that people have turned to at the beginning of the pandemic. YouTube’s report is made up of visuals, along with a brief explanation of what each trend entails.
The trending topics classify into three big categories based on the KR&I Human Needs Model, developed by cultural anthropologist Susan Kresnicka: Self Care, Social Connection, Identity. These are three interconnected pillars of need, explaining the interconnected factors that construct our identity. These factors are not mutually exclusive. Cooking may be a way of caring for themselves, and at the same time could be a catalyst for redefining a sense of self.
The phrase ‘Self Care’ seems to define ‘indulgent candle-lit bubble baths’ or a ‘treat yourself’ kind of day at a boujee Michelin restaurant. But according to YouTube’s report, Self Care is really about the nurturing and nourishing of one’s most fundamental emotional and biological state. With the presence of a global pandemic planting a sense of anxiety and uncertainty in our everyday lives, people were driven to seek solace in forms of visual media.
Now we know that comfort seems to come in the form of self-maintenance through mindfulness exercises and extravagant cooking for self and mind-relaxation brought upon by calming sounds.
They say that human beings are not solitary creatures that can live by themselves. We are social creatures, driven and fuelled by our interactions with others. When the necessity for social distancing and self-isolation have ousted us from this ability to socialize in person, people have turned to virtual content as a means to reach and connect with others.
Either by hopping on the worldwide craze of making the perfect dalgona coffee or by watching “Get Ready With Me” videos sharing the latest quarantine fashion, these trends fulfilled a collective secondhand sense of connection and bond that people craved during the lockdown.
One’s identity is formed by the collection of their experiences and interaction. Quarantine has been a time where people make the best of their isolation and discover previously unnoticed skills and hobbies, exploring themselves and who they might become. People become better versions of themselves as they acquire these new abilities and adapt to their disrupted lives, plans, jobs that have shaped them into who they are.
When people enhance their skills for daily activities like cooking and tending their gardens or feel self-empowered as they learn how to cut their own hair and look fabulous in their Zoom meetings, videos have become a platform for expressing and evolving one’s identity.
From Youtube’s report, we could see that we have come to a point where we really look into what values and needs without the distraction of our jobs, responsibilities, and our surroundings since the global pandemic. If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, is that we have an uncannily similar set of needs as human beings. No matter where we are in the world and what backgrounds we have, we all seek the same thing as technology becomes our only source of release: to connect with others, feel emotionally and physically relaxed, and establish strong selfhood.
After all, we are only human.
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