COVID changed the way we interact with each other—and it also changed the way we consume media.
As movie studios canceled productions and theaters closed their doors, streaming services became the medium of choice for the foreseeable future. I took in my fair share of streaming content during quarantine, and as I watched my favorite shows I noticed something: Where were the masks and people standing six feet apart on TV?
What audiences see in media and advertising is the fantasy of a sugarcoated world with picturesque scenes of happy extended families gathering without heeding any of the mandated precautions. No one is shown putting on a mask to make a trip to the mall or coping with forced togetherness under quarantine.
Not showing the reality of this prolonged pandemic in media may ultimately do us all more harm than good. A perfect, mask-less world on screen belies the reality of our everyday struggles and the science that will help bring this crisis to an end—and potentially reinforce misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and careless behavior.
So, do we show more ads with masks, social distancing, and safe gatherings, or do we luxuriate in the escape of a mask-free world on TV? The longer the pandemic lingers, I believe it’s inevitable that COVID precautions will seep into the media we consume—and, as a professional communicator, I believe it’s up to the media, advertising, and entertainment industries to embrace safe behavior and make our new reality part of the fantasy.
What do you think? I’d love to know your opinion—please feel free to share your thoughts on our Facebook page!