There is no way to quantify this, but my guess is that digital communication on social media and on Zoom video chat equates to about 20% of the value compared to in-person contact. No real hugs, not real contact. Only digital.
There’s something missing, as we all know. The body language we exhibit, the smells, the things you notice in a room during a meeting, the shoes someone is wearing.
We’re doing our best while fully aware of the fact that nothing can replace the things that matter most. If we’re missing 80% of the in-person communication signals and that leaves only 20% of the value, then social media is a small part of that. Let’s say about 5% or less.
You can argue about that percentage all you want — it’s a healthy debate. We do need to figure out how to communicate more effectively given the fact that the coronavirus pandemic might be lingering for a while longer. In Minnesota, for example, the Governor just extended a stay-at-home order for two more weeks. (The reaction has been less than supportive.) Offices, restaurants, bars — they might not open soon or when they do they might not cater to a crowd of people like they once did.
It might be a doomsayer viewpoint, but there is great irony in the fact that we are all stuck with Facebook. The home of a billion baby photos and wedding announcements has become our new virtual home. There is a glimmer of hope, though.
Recently, Facebook at least made an attempt to express ourselves in a new way.
Joining the existing “reactions” available now (such as love, anger, and laughter), the social media giant added a new option. It looks like you are hugging a heart and it’s called care. There’s also a new heart reaction for Messenger. Per Facebook: “We’ve added a new reaction so you can show extra support while many of us are apart. We hope this helps you, your family and your friends feel a bit more connected.”
Some users have reported it’s starting to appear as an option.
In fact, I’m one of them.
The care reaction showed up late in the day today, and I tried using it a few times. A few people notices. The icon looks like an orange smiley face but it’s a bit too similar to the other reactions. I also wondered if there will be more reactions coming soon. Consternation? Confusion? Chaos? It could be a cornucopia of emotions.
And, I’m okay with it.
I like that Facebook is trying to acknowledge the fact that this is a tough time and there is a way to express empathy and concern to others. It’s a much better alternative than simply plodding along with all of the digital tools we used before the crazy time.
The world has changed. I’m happy to see some reaction.