Is There Such a Thing As a "Good" Instagram Live Session?

As it turns out, yes.

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) rendered most of housebound for weeks on end, the only notifications I ever got about anyone going on Instagram Live were from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has regularly used the platform to talk about everything from the Green New Deal to migrant detention centers (all while drinking wine, cooking dinner, or assembling IKEA furniture).

But in this unchartered era of self-isolation and social distancing, it seems like there's someone going live every hour. Influencers, non-influencers, actors, musicians, you name it. In the first week of our collective self-isolation, this was a nice way of feeling connected with other people, even as we all took precautions to keep each other safe from the comfort of our individual homes. We all met Selena Gomez's new puppy via instagram Live. We tuned into Michelle Obama's virtual party with DJ D-Nice. We (Barack Obama included) stayed informed through basketball player Steph Currey's live chat about coronavirus with Dr. Anthony Fauci. We even had virtual concerts with John Legend and James Blake.

Now, as the days all blend into each other and March begins to stretch out into what feels like the longest month in history, it's become a running joke. (Even a 10-year-old Kardashian is "going live!")

While there have been some ill-advised Instagram Lives of late (i.e. Vanessa Hudgens's session, in which she commented on the coronavirus: "yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible. But like, inevitable?"), a "going live" notification doesn't always have to induce an "ah sh—t, here we go again" out of you. There are some good ones out there — really.

Take, for example, actress Phoebe Tonkin, who has been using Instagram Live in recent days to read children's books to her followers. It's a perfect use of IG Live: children's books are just short enough for a reading session, but not too short, and Tonkin's gentle Australian lilt makes me feel like tiny angels dressed in white cotton nightgowns are tucking me into bed.

And with the number of gyms and fitness studios that have had to close due to concerns over the virus, many are streaming their workouts on Instagram for free. My personal favorite is yoga studio Sky Ting's workouts, which are challenging but not taxing, and are very apartment-friendly — especially if you live on the top floor of a building and can't really be doing jump-squats.

On the days I am looking for a little more intensity and cardio in a workout (and when my downstairs neighbor is absent on a grocery run), boxing studio Shadowbox's live workouts keep me in fighting shape — no gloves necessary, but fun to use if you have them.

It's easy to start feeling powerless when the best thing you can do to keep everyone safe in this pandemic is to stay home. But Global Citizen and the World Health Organization have joined forces for Together At Home, a series of concerts and Q&As to keep us all informed and entertained. And if you're able to spare it, you can donate to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser after you watch.

Although I generally use Instagram when I'm trying not to think about the news (that's what we have Twitter for), when I do want to stay informed in between Instagram stories of work-from-home setups, I turn to AOC, who I can trust for a no-filter look into political policy, no-nonsense callouts on racism, and A+ skincare tips.

As much as I'd love to limit my screentime, now that we're all indoors in an attempt to keep ourselves and each other safe, I'd like to think that this means screentime no longer counts. In the time of self-isolation, all bets are off: Instagram time limits don't exist, and binge-watching isn't limited to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It's not the only social platform you can lose hours in while we stay socially distanced, but Instagram Live's real-time ephemerality is its most appealing quality.

The longer we go on with this pandemic, the clearer it is that this is a marathon, not a sprint — and that if we're going to stay safe physically and mentally, whatever that means for you. I, personally, will continue to let my mind palace be filled with children's books, gentle workouts, and AOC's wisdom.

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