Being under lockdown impacts everyone—even superstars. ‘We’re all in this together’, many say, and although technically we are, not all of us have the same resources to deal with the situation. The best that most of us can do is to stay home, donate what we can afford to hospitals and maybe even volunteer if we’re eligible.
On the other hand, celebrities have the possibility to make a bigger difference because of their influence, but also, let’s be honest here, because of their well-endowed bank accounts. Are celebrities of any help in tackling the pandemic, and if so, which are offering more than a daily Instagram live stream?
Let me start off by saying that although I tend to ridicule live streams, their potential cannot be ignored. Chris Martin playing the piano and the guitar in his living room might not be of any help to me, but it could make someone else’s day—a fan or a kid. Same goes for John Legend, Pink and the other famous musicians who decided to do daily or weekly home gigs. Even The Backstreet Boys reunited to sing the legendary I Want It That Way, conference call-style, and it didn’t disappoint.
Musicians are not the only ones who saw an opportunity in filming themselves doing what they do best. Turner Prize-winning artist and absolute icon of mine Grayson Perry just announced that he will launch Grayson’s Art Club, a Channel 4 show that will teach people self-isolating how to create different kinds of artworks. Perry’s aim is to push viewers to make art that is related to their experience in isolation and possibly exhibit them once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Grayson’s Art Club could not only teach you some drawing, painting and sculpting skills, but it could also allow you to get out of your head for an hour—something that, at the moment, has proved to be a complicated task for many.
If free classes and live streams are not enough efforts in your opinion, there’s probably another celebrity doing something with more impact. Many famous actors, singers and influencers are donating to different causes in order to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. In the US, the lockdown means that kids who depend on the care and nutrition they receive during school hours will struggle to get meals. That’s nearly 22 million American children who rely on food support.
While in the UK the government left a few schools open specifically for those kids, the US didn’t. The US charity No Kid Hungry provides meals for children from low-income families across the US while schools are closed. Actresses Angelina Jolie and Kristen Bell both donated to No Kid Hungry and encouraged anyone with the means to donate as well. Bell’s children also decided to help and add whatever money they had in their piggy bank to her donation, resulting in $150,007.96 (£125,000).
Rihanna also helped through her nonprofit organisation—the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) has donated $5 million (£4.2 million) towards different organisations in the US and around the world. The money was split between food banks in America, protective equipment for frontline health workers, research to develop a vaccine and work to accelerate testing and care.
Gossip Girl actress Blake Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds also donated to help provide food for older people and low-income families. In the UK, X-Men actor James McAvoy donated £275,000 to the Masks For NHS Heroes campaign, which provides protective equipment for staff. McAvoy also shared a video in which he thanked NHS staff members for caring for people even without the right equipment.
Justin Bieber pledged in February to donate 200,000 renminbis (RMB), which equals to £23,500, to the children’s charity Beijing Chunmiao Charity Foundation to help with the relief efforts.
The list goes on. The fact is that, yes, celebrities are donating. Some are helping in other ways—whether you consider live streams as a distinct aid is up to you.
As Man Repeller’s brand director Harling Gross wrote in An Anthropological Catalogue of Celebrity Quarantine Antics, “Over the past couple of weeks, I have been equal parts alarmed, delighted, confused, and intrigued by the antics of various celebrities.” Celebrities are, just like us, doing their best to help tackle this pandemic while also staying home and safe. Donations, piano serenades and solo karaoke sessions are each a helping hand in these uncertain times.
My only advice for you is to keep a positive mindset. As bitter and pessimistic as I can be, I’ve recently discovered a more hopeful side of me—with all the bad news floating around, it’s good to get some positivity. Celebrities could always donate more money and ‘do more’, but having this mentality can then be reversed on yourself when, in fact, there isn’t much more you can do. So relax, enjoy Sir Elton John’s ‘living room gig’ and stay home.
The coronavirus outbreak is only now starting to seriously affect the UK and the US, and everyone is panicking. Here I am, working from home during what seems to be the end of the world. People are scared, confused and unsure about what lies ahead. Have we got enough food in the house? Am I really going to do all my meetings through video calls for the next month? Even worse, am I really going to be unable to date people for a whole month?
Reaching ultimate boredom because you’re stuck in the house is one thing; self-isolating and therefore missing out on many great dates—and, potentially, great sex—is another thing. Here’s how the coronavirus is impacting our dating lives and what you can do to make things just a tiny bit better.
Speaking with some friends about whether or not they were still using dating apps and if so what for, one just stated what should have been obvious to me: “it’s making people horny innit.” Well, it turns out it actually is. Hinge has become the ‘place to be’ for thirsty coronavirus pick-up lines. Tinder is kindly asking its users to wash their hands and avoid touching their face—let alone go any further than chatting through the app. People are home, bored and swiping through profiles just to get a distraction from our constant anxiety-inducing pandemic newsfeed.
Add self-isolation to general public health concerns, and people feel lonely, panicked and desperate for some company. Friends that were ‘on the market’ for a few months have decided to delete their dating apps completely, justifying this by explaining that opportunities are much slimmer and that nobody seems to be talking about anything else at all. “Dating during a pandemic is just… different,” said one.
Screen Shot spoke to a Tinder spokesperson about how the app was approaching the outbreak and what measures it was taking to inform people to stay safe. “Tinder understands that our members are oftentimes meeting new people in-person, and given the current environment, we wanted to remind them of the precautions they should take. All of the suggestions shared are from the World Health Organization, and we are making it easy for everyone on Tinder to find out more by linking directly from the app to the WHO site.” In other words, at the moment, there’s not much the app can do apart from encouraging people to avoid meeting for dates.
However, while it looks like regular activity is continuing on Tinder, the dating app just recently had to cancel the release of its apocalyptic-themed in-app video series called Swipe Night. The company had planned to release the first season of the show offering a five-minute interactive story where users made choices to progress the narrative. These choices would then appear on the users’ profiles and would be used to match them with others who also took the same action. Apocalyptic theme put aside, this actually sounded like a good distraction. Another one bites the dust.
The same can be said for other dating apps such as Bumble, Hinge and Grindr. And while the reasons behind this drought are more than justified, FaceTiming matches and having phone sex might not cut it.
That’s where Feeld comes in. For those of you who haven’t heard about it before, Feeld is a dating app for people interested in polyamory, kink, swinging and other alternative sexual preferences. Speaking to Feeld’s head of PR Lyubov Sachkova, Screen Shot asked about the app’s new way of facilitating intimate interactions. “Being online is what everyone seems to be doing now, more so than ever. What that means for dating is that while people might not be meeting in real life they still would want to connect with like-minded individuals and create connections, chat and get to know one another,” explained Sachkova.
So what is Feeld doing better than the rest of our dating apps? It is introducing a feature that will actually relieve us from our self-isolating horny state. “We recently launched a project titled For Play where you can digitally touch, tease and flirt with others”. If you decide to enter the For Play universe, you will be transformed into a floating avatar that both mirrors and completely abstracts your features. Your ‘orb’-like avatar is then assigned to a digital room where you can play with up to three other live participants.
What’s the deal, some of you might ask. “We are aiming to create a multi-sensory digital experience that stimulates sight, touch and hearing. So hopefully in this time of social distancing we can still feel the positive effects of human touch even if only digitally for now.” While we’re all stuck inside losing our mind over the tiniest thing only because we can’t deal with being isolated for more than two days, For Play gives you the chance to get a tiny bit of gratification and thrill over bumping your orb against someone else’s—sounds dirty, I know.
What we can take away from this is that dating will not be the same for a little while. Whether you decide to keep on using dating apps to chat online or have already deleted Hinge from your phone, we can all agree that self-isolation is, technically, making meeting new people harder for everyone. It’s all about your determination now. Are you willing to date through FaceTime? If not, For Play seems like the safest (and funnest) option.
So, what are you waiting for? Want to bump your orb against mine? Just make sure you wash it first.