What we do

The lockdown causes us to narrow our horizons. In reaction to the threat of infectious diseases, we try to avoid disease and infection by means of psychological mechanisms known as the behavioral immune system (BIS): “One manifestation of the BIS is the cautious avoidance of unfamiliar, foreign, or potentially contaminating stimuli. Specifically, when disease infection risk is salient or prevalent, authoritarian attitudes can emerge that seek to avoid and reject foreign outgroups while favoring homogenous, familiar ingroups.”

Our online behavior under lockdown mirrors this partially. We focus more than before on social media that are connecting people in our own neighborhood and we search for the effects the virus is having on our direct environment. We search less for general information, and much more on virus-related information. But we use more neutral media outlets and only to a lesser degree more partisan, rightist media outlets.

We also seek more contact online with those whom we already know through social media, less so by smartphone and more on our computers. Especially video chatting has surged. The other things we do more online are working online, learning online, watching Netflix and YouTube and video gaming.

It seems that under lockdown in the digital domain social media, and especially video chatting, supports our sense of social belonging, work, and education online support both our sense of achievement and our sense of social belonging while searching for virus-related information and consuming entertainment function as a defense mechanism against the threat of the virus and thereby support our sense of autonomy.