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From dancing to crochet, we're happily together alone


Experiences of dancing, gym sessions and crocheting shared together on social media offer a circuit-breaker and sense of sanity to many people during the coronavirus lockdown.

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As the world bunkers down and the daily news cycle revolves around one story alone, shared experiences on social media are offering a circuit-breaker and sense of sanity to many people during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Billions worldwide have headed online to connect and share their experiences under the tag #happyathome.

Experts said the spike in online traffic could help businesses stay afloat as well as proving a boon to people’s mental health.

Trish Obst, from the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) school of psychology, who researches sense of community, said people had been getting creative in looking for alternative ways to stay connected.

“If you think in your daily life, we have so much incidental dropping in and just chatting with the people in the work tea room, the coffees on Saturday morning with your friends … that information connection is really a huge part of our daily lives,” Obst said.

The trend is also noticeable on the social media platform TikTok.

“We’re inspired to see the TikTok community continue to use their creativity to motivate one another,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

“That spirit has spread through trends like #happyathome and #quarantine, where users are sharing their experiences of working or schooling from home.”

According to TikTok’s statistics, #lifeathome had been shared 2 billion times, while #safehands had been viewed by 1.8 billion people.

It said #quarantine (2.5 billion views) and #selfcare (2.4 billion views) were also trending.

On a more local level, a Brisbane gym initiated an odd object challenge, asking members to send in videos of their workouts with an “odd object”.

The gym’s social media was flooded with videos of members lifting bedframes, a motorbike trailer, surfboards, a trolley — even a cat.

‘A sense of sanity’

QUT digital communications specialist, Associate Professor Daniel Angus, said such interactions were providing a fix for people craving connection.

“I think it is something that’s going to help us through this to maintain social connections and have a sense of sanity through all of this,” Angus said.

Andrea Lam’s Brisbane Bollywood dance school Dance Masala had shifted classes online when social distancing restrictions came into effect.

“We’ve gone onto Zoom and set up live stream classes that you can join, and we can actually see you if you’ve got a webcam,” Lam said.

“We can see into our students’ lounge rooms or their bedrooms, and that’s really unique and actually really fun,” she said.

Obst said these shifts in behaviour were a sign of people building a community around a common experience.

“It gives you something to share,” she said.

“You can bring your conversations away from [COVID-19] and down to what stitch you picked up this week or what move you’re doing.”

Crocheted ‘coronavirus creations’

Sue Stapleton, who runs a platform called Two Redheads Crochet, said people had been offering each other online support to try and keep conversations light-hearted.

Women had posted their own “coronavirus creations” and adaptions of a population stitch known as the “virus”.

“Designers from all around the world have been putting up patterns in their stores for free or at heavily discounted prices as they know many people are finding things tough,” Stapleton said.

Emma-Louise Wilson filmed some of her efforts to share with those taking on similar projects.

“Pre-isolation, I would only crochet in the evening, or if my little one was at kindy and I had a spare moment,” Wilson said.

“I’m starting to feel a little less guilty about having the telly on and having the time to myself and this is how I choose to spend it.”

– ABC / Brittney Kleyn

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