As I went about my daily routine of ‘Doomsurfing’ on Twitter, I came across a joke that hit home, way too hard. It spoke about how 50 years ago, our grandparents spoke about a future with flying cars. But instead, here we are, still teaching people how to wash their hands properly.
As we face what is possibly the biggest turning point of our lives, I am left to wonder how this is going to significantly impact the landscape of communication. Being extra sensitive and showing empathy seem to be key in winning the game of communication. It’s not about individual perceptions anymore; the world is leaning towards a dominant emotion, and everyone is taking it upon themselves to be the harbinger of awareness and sensitivity.
For instance, brands are constantly trying to outdo each other in trying to be the epitome of corporate social responsibility. Just this morning, I came across an advertisement by the legacy adhesive brand Fevicol. They effectively created a conversation around social distancing as a precautionary measure during the outbreak in order to strengthen bonds in the times to come.
From Amul to Bigbasket, all brands, big or small, are leaving no stone unturned to cash in on this great marketing opportunity, while also spreading awareness.
The government is not far behind either. Leaders across political spectrums are coming together to show they care about the welfare of their citizens. All governments are on war footing, constantly updating their social media handles, informing people of the pandemic, and assisting them in every possible way. A concerted, and cohesive communication plan is the need of the hour, and I truly applaud the way the Indian government has been handling this situation.
The effects of the pandemic on communication are more visible when people are coming across as not being emotionally aligned with the majority. Like in the case of actress Vanessa Hudgens, who was universally slammed online after a video of her complaining about the US response to Coronavirus in an Instagram Live video emerged.
The effects of what are her technically her ‘personal considerations’ were such that she had to take down the video soon after. She even had to issue a public apology, where she said “I don’t take this situation lightly by any means. So, stay inside y’all.”
As the situation continues to intensify, the communication landscape is altering in a way we had never imagined. Everyone is exercising extreme sensitivity and caution while dishing out any form of communication. Everyone is looking to play a narrative that is going to educate the masses.
If there is one thing that the virus has shown, it is that we are all capable of coming together in the times of crisis, and supporting our communities at large; across any social, economic, or political barriers. This is probably why communication across geographies right now seems so unified. Could this moment in history eventually transform the way we speak? Is it possible that this will usher in an era of empathy, and improve the general public temperament? Or will we retreat to our old ways once we are past this global crisis?
This aricle is authoured by Pranshu Sikka, CEO, and founder of The Pivotals.