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With more than half the world in isolation with their own families, and daily count of infected patients increasing rapidly, how are we managing? On one hand, anxiety levels are increasing, whereas on the other, we have a lot more time than we anticipated.

Studies have shown that not doing anything only increases our anxiety levels, thereby adding to the health risk further. What is irking us more – risk of getting infected or loneliness and boredom?

While Europeans are getting anxious across countries, they are still figuring out creative ways to stay pre-occupied – collectively, they are all creatively anxious!
But is it all song-and-dance everywhere in Europe, with Bundurria, Flamenco Guitar or Accordion in every balcony, and happy Europeans Yodeling away every night? (at least that’s what the Whatsapp forwards allude to)

Our “basic essentials” of Food and Entertainment have to be addressed. While Entertainment is crucial, Amazon takes precedence over any of these, as need of survival is the most critical need for everyone globally (India is an exception so far, which I will cover later).

But keeping Amazon on one hand, what is keeping people busy online?

For the sake of understanding patterns, have looked at the trends of 5 significant countries for their search densities of 3 appropriate terms – Amazon, Netflix, and Pornhub. Key countries that have been severely impacted – Italy, Spain, France, United States, and of course, India – have been checked. You can do one for your own country on Google Trends as well.

So what happened in these 5 nations –
Broadly speaking, there is a pattern connecting lockdowns and porn searches, and stay-at-home and NetFlix searches.

While there is a general increase over the weekends, Netflix saw a general uptrend the moment stay-at-home recommendations were made in these nations. However, on specific days when the respective countries announced Nation-wide lockdowns, there was a surge in both Netflix and Porn Searches.

On top of that, Pornhub announced free premium memberships in Italy, France, and Spain – post which traffic in each country jumped by a whopping 57%, 38% and 61% compared to an “average day,” respectively, according to the company. But the impact was not constant across countries.

Following is a summary of specific patterns for each of these 5 Countries –

Italy

On the evening of 9 March, the quarantine measures were expanded to the entire country, coming into effect the next day. But on 11th March, when Prime Minister Conte announced a complete lockdown, with all commercial and retail businesses except those providing essential services, closed down – something else opened up.

While Netflix also increased, search for porn soared, which was boosted further when Pornhub made premium content free on 12th March – clearly one offer most people jumped at! As you can see the curve above, while Initially, Pornhub surged, Netflix soon caught up with its content!

Spain

In Spain, around the first week of March, when the soft lockdown was enforced, search for Netflix started increasing. But when “national lockdown” was announced on 14th March, it surged. Then on 16th March, when the Subscription for Premium content was made free by Pornhub, the search density crossed that of Netflix as well (as you can see in the graph).

While Amazon searches kept on increasing as Lockdown period increased, it looks like Netflix has won over Pornhub – and the free premium content could not retain its viewers (or users, if I may say so!)

France

France witnessed similar trends like Spain – the search for Pornhub went up the same day premium content got free, but then Netflix won the war of entertainment. Given the “Cultural Openness” of the country, probably it is more pragmatic to watch Netflix than Nue-flix!

United States

While Netflix is on the rise in the past couple of weeks, since there is no strict lockdown yet, clearly most Americans are open in their preferences. Interestingly, it has also overtaken the search for Pornhub, as more people are staying at home and looking at more interesting sources of entertainment. However, the usual sinusoidal graph of weekends vs Weekdays is clearly still visible, signalling limited lockdown probably (or strict work ethics, maybe 😉

India

While globally, more people are looking for Amazon, India seems to be taking a hit in the last week or so, largely due to the supply chain coming under the ambit of lockdown as well. Hopefully, this should change over the next fortnight or so!

From an Entertainment perspective, when regional lockdown was announced in few states, search for Netflix went up as more people started staying at home. But Pornhub searches surged immediately after the announcement of 21-day complete lockdown – on 24th March. Post that, It seems that the ban on porn sites was lifted, though no premium content was made free (Ban lifted on Porn Sites (Unofficially). Incidentally, even with basic content, Indian traffic on Pornhub is in the top 3 countries globally already!

While some of us are playing Big Boss (as the current ‘activities’ assigned by our respected PM, Mr. Modi has been alluded to), there are a lot more of us who are busy in ‘other’ kind of activities!

Summary

Overall, it shows that Lockdown and Search for Neflix and Porn are related – but is it simple correlation or is there some causation as well? Are more people staying at home because they have porn (and Netflix) to get entertained, or is it vice versa? Do people get bored after an initial surge of porn viewing, post which they move to Netflix (as demonstrated in some of these charts)? Or is it that they keep switching profiles based on the age profiles?

Based on all the patterns and experts, three things have been recommended consistently (as collated by the Guardian) that we can learn from our European counterparts –

Do something that has an action Rosella De Leonibus, a psychologist in Perugia, said that keeping active was vitally important. What counted, she said, was “everything that’s an action – with a result. Passive is no use; passivity makes you feel anxious and increases anxiety.”
So a to-do list or maintaining contact with others is a tick mark, but social media obsession is not. Whether watching Porn counts or not is up to the interpreter!

No need to be falsely upbeat“When things are bad, being pressured to be positive can be positively harmful. The positivism of Instagram is dangerous at the best of times – but now it’s even worse.” clinical psychologist Albert Soler (Spain)

Don’t spend too much time on Social media – “The psycho-social dimension is very important in this crisis,” Ramacker said at one briefing, urging people not to spend the whole day on social media and to establish a routine that gives structure to their days. “You can do a lot at home.

All in all – when you are at home, the need for entertainment and groceries is increasing by the day. But while we are searching for entertainment sources, we should do something that involves action, does not make us falsely upbeat and distracts us from Social Media!

Does it mean that Self-Proximity, if I can call it, will ensure Social Distancing?

Whatever people might be searching for, at the end of the day they all need to get the fulfillment done – either by Amazon or Netflix / Pornhub! 🙂

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