Social media has been a mixed emotional experience in Japan during the COVID-19 pandemic. For many individuals, the internet has been a true lifeline in such difficult times, offering users a way to connect with others as they stay at home as well as provide ample distraction from the uncertain reality outside. It’s also providing a platform that businesses facing tough financial times have been able to use to help raise much-needed funds.

Social media can also be a source of stress and emotional distress — and that’s before we even start to consider more serious issues such as cyberbullying. This was obviously the case before the pandemic as well, but it has certainly intensified over the past 12 months. While generalizing about a platform that boasts millions of users is arguably risky, Twitter in particular has felt more on edge than usual in the first couple of months of 2021.

While the U.S. presidential election in November and then the final days in office of President Donald Trump were always going to be divisive insofar as social media was concerned, a number of more trivial issues in recent months have sparked several heated conversations. In one case, a judgmental tweet about anime spurred a lot of anger about “gatekeeping.”