Two Years of COVID: Positive Trends in Human Behavior

Two years after the initial pandemic lockdowns, COVID has instigated its share of societal changes for better and for worse. It’s easy to get discouraged and think about the difficulties, and even tragedies, the pandemic brought in its wake, but ShareThis data shows this time has also been a powerful catalyst for behavioral change. Below, we share the top trends in how COVID has changed the world.

Percent Growth or Decline in Category Engagement, February 2022 vs. February 2020 (%):

Percent Growth or Decline in Category Engagement with Roller Skating seeing the most growth and Dating & Personals seeing the most decline.

Different Interests for a Different Time

Our data reveals a fascinating array of changing interests over the past two years. We can see a significant decline in data usage for categories that used to dominate our day-to-day lives, such as dating & personals, carpooling, and food & beverage events. We’re also seeing that people are still not as comfortable being in enclosed spaces with others as they were pre-COVID. 

Another significant downward trend is the 90% decrease in searches about horror films––we have enough scary things happening in our day-to-day lives and would prefer not to reach for artificial terror! There’s also been a sharp 92% decrease in activity with DVD & video shopping in general as consumers shift to streaming services instead …and maybe even going back to the movie theater. ShareThis data shows a recent interest in movie listings & showtimes, indicating that while our customers are still nervous about enclosed spaces, they are starting to return to the theater—a trend further supported by record-breaking numbers for both Spider-Man: No Way Home (approaching $800 million domestically) and The Batman (at $245 million just in North America after only 2 weekends). 

Our data also shows many users searching for small kitchen appliances, putting those cooking skills that were perfected in quarantine to good use. (And speaking of, have you checked out the ShareThis cookbook yet?!) The new landscape of business is also booming, with high increases in searches about stocks & bonds and enterprise resource planning. However, our biggest area of category growth data in the last two years is a nearly 400% increase in searches about roller-skating—no doubt thanks in part to the need for outdoor activities! 

Percent Share of Searches by Month of a Global Outdoor Gathering Audience (%):

Percent Share of Searches by Month of a Global Outdoor Gathering Audience (%) with Winter seeing the highest engagement.
  1. Winter 2020 caused people to figure out ways to safely gather, before new pandemic habits formed.

Did you ever sit on a lawn chair on your driveway or apartment balcony and shout a conversation to your neighbor who was doing the same in order to maintain social distancing? We’ve come a long way from our initial nervous days of lockdown when we only talked across large distances or on Zoom, but outdoor gatherings are still a major topic of interest. 

Interest in outdoor community spaces was at its highest during winter 2020—when many people were still uncomfortable spending time with others inside but wanted to see loved ones during the holidays. And even with a shift to slightly more pre-pandemic attitudes, our data shows a 26% increase in searches for information about community spaces like patio seating, outdoor dining, and green community spaces.

Top Keywords Expressed by a Pandemic Move Audience:

Top Keywords Expressed by a Pandemic Move Audience including terms such as "move home", "remote work opportunities".

Moving Closer to Loved Ones

COVID caused many to reevaluate their lives: how they spent their time and who they spent it with. This was likely initially fueled by stay-at-home orders and then massive layoffs and company closures, but it’s carried on as the “Great Resignation” has come into full swing and employees have gained the upper hand in the market. The data indicates an increase in many keywords that show an interest in moving home, including phrases like, “move back home,” “closer to family,” “move in with parents,” and “cross-country moving service.” Interest in pandemic moves have only recently started to slow down, dropping just 14% since fall 2020.

Highest Indexing Categories by a Mental Health App Audience:

Highest Indexing Categories by a Mental Health App Audience with the top two categories being weight loss and economics.

Mental Health Is on the Upswing

The uncertainty and fear surrounding the early days of the pandemic led many to seek mental health services. Some experienced debilitating anxiety and similar concerns for the first time, while others experienced an exacerbation of mental health struggles already present in their lives. Many turned to mental health apps for relief as they were stuck at home and struggling to deal with the upheaval of unprecedented times. 

The good news is that ShareThis data indicates that people are starting to feel better, with a 68% decrease in online engagement with mental health apps between now and early 2020. Weight loss now shows up as the highest indexing area of interest by an audience of mental health app users—perhaps due to all those culinary experiments in quarantine.

Sentiment for the Keyword “Immunocompromised” (%):

Sentiment for the Keyword “Immunocompromised” (%)

Increased Awareness for Vulnerable Populations

You may not have used the term “immunocompromised” often, if at all, before the pandemic; however, the term is now part of the public vernacular, with an increase in positive sentiment toward the phrase showing up in our data. We have also seen a 329% increase in discussion about “long COVID” since it was first coined. This indicates that awareness of these public health needs has increased significantly over the past two years, and the population is more amenable to helping people more vulnerable to sickness than themselves.

It’s impossible to see all the repercussions from the pandemic, but it’s clear from our data that many areas of life are on the upswing. People are searching for ways to safely gather outdoors. Individuals are seeking out living situations that better meet their needs, often in places that are closer to their family members. Mental health appears to be improving due to decreased engagement with mental health apps. Awareness of vulnerable, immunocompromised populations has increased, hopefully indicating greater protection and care for them in the future. 

We can only hope that these positive trends will continue to rise—and if you’d like to access data that will help you better understand the changing behaviors of your customers, reach out to ShareThis today.

After 2 years of COVID, the world is becoming more understanding, outdoor spaces are still preferred, people are moving home, and mental health has improved.
About ShareThis

ShareThis has unlocked the power of global digital behavior by synthesizing social share, interest, and intent data since 2007. Powered by consumer behavior on over three million global domains, ShareThis observes real-time actions from real people on real digital destinations.

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