Coronavirus Series Part 3: Individual Experiences within a Large Group
We recounted in our previous two blog posts that the Chinese government took extreme measures to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. In response, companies thought up innovative ways for customers to stay up to date and keep their lives in order. But in the end, it’s all about these individuals, and how they hold up during these testing times.
This final installment in our series is all about the Chinese people enduring the current circumstances. Whether as families or individuals, old and young across the country are all in the same boat. This created a common sense of purpose and it’s clear in a number of ways.
Sharing is caring
As mentioned previously, China is a very digital society. Especially during these trying times, social media provide a necessary outlet for most citizens. Instead of meeting up with friends at cafes or bars, there are posts going around of people video chatting in groups. Instead or ordering out all the time, many people post pictures of homemade dishes that they now have ample time to make. Of course, personal hobbies and exercise all take place indoors now.
Besides sharing actual activities, user generated content (UGC) is another big thing during this period. Hashtags and slogans such as 武汉加油！Go Wuhan! Quickly gained traction after coming to life, in English and Chinese. Many memes and cartoons started to pop up, applauding the great work that doctors and first-aid workers are doing, showing the current situation or just to confirm that Wuhan is on top of people’s minds.
Social media also functions as a window into the daily lives of the Chinese, especially those living in Wuhan. Citizen journalists on TikTok show what’s actually happening at hospitals and building sites. Pictures of popular sightseeing spots like the Bund, Tiananmen Square and busy shopping streets show an emptiness that’s rarely if ever been seen.
Combatting more than just the virus
Of course, media coverage and information spreading are key aspects of the epidemic and its worldwide impact. There are clearly difficulties and uncertainties, in Wuhan and other parts of China. At the same time, fear and misinformation have spread far and wide, contributing to many rumors being spread and negative views of Wuhan, China and even Asians in general.
Some foreigners actively use their platform to create more understanding and negate any fears. One expat in China writes on LinkedIn: “If you’re an expat currently in China, unless you’re in Wuhan, fact is that you’re most likely safer, more peaceful and more stable by simply staying put than by leaving right now. You couldn’t be safer than in this country, where almost everyone is dutifully isolating themselves with awareness.”
Xenophobia and racism with regards to the virus and the sickness, have become real problems for overseas communities and Asian establishments. Viral hashtags such as #IAmNotAVirus quickly sprang into life to ensure people can see each other for more than just risks. Within China, cartoons depicting Wuhan as a sick friend who needs help and support remind everyone that these are still family members, friends, colleagues and people who aren’t synonymous with the epidemic nor its spread.
Supporting each other from close and afar
Many overseas Chinese and international communities actively support China and the Chinese in different ways. Whether through sending masks, suits or other equipment, or by collecting donations. Naturally, social media and apps also help a lot in these situations. From spreading the word to providing easy donation options when ordering food or doing groceries online.
International companies doing business in China and the international community in general also make their voices heard. Chinese workers for international companies receive support and are shown in their current office settings with all necessary precautions. Foreigners who are or have been in China, no matter if it’s for a few months or many years, actively help to dispel rumors and provide accurate, first-hand information.
Although the epidemic greatly influenced life in China, it’s definitely admirable to see the resilience and inventiveness of the people. With recent infection numbers getting higher outside of China than inside the country, it seems like many people may soon return to a more normalized situation of their lives. In the West, it could be good for us to learn from the Chinese people in this case.
Follow our blog to read part 1: government and part 2: companies!