The Screenhead (zombus remotus)

zombus remotus
Image: Bárbara Abbês for Quartz

Where to find them in the wild (pre-Covid): 

Movie theaters, sporting events, concerts, gaming at home, Netflix-ing and chilling.

Where to find them in captivity, online: 

Everywhere: the Screenhead is Zooming, TikTok-ing, Tweeting, Grubhubbing, Twitching, Animal Crossing, and Amazon Priming their way through the pandemic.

What they’re doing in captivity: 

Everything they used to do in pre-Pandemic life—whether shopping, socializing, exercising, eating, or, most of all, entertaining themselves—with the aid of their television, laptop, tablet, or phone. (Or, all of the above!) Juvenile Screenheads can also be spotted in captivity, likely on TikTok or Animal Crossing.

Identifying markers:

A pile of Amazon packages outside the front door; “text neck;” a human-shaped imprint in the couch.

What companies and sectors they’re feeding: 

Netflix and other streaming services

Netflix added nearly 16 million subscribers in the first few months of 2020. As Adam Epstein recently reported, “This occurred as streaming usage across the industry skyrocketed. Verizon said streaming video on its US networks was up 41% in April. Americans watched about 27 billion minutes of streaming content on their TVs per day in April, up from 10 billion at the same time last year, according to Nielsen. Globally, daytime streaming usage was up 40% at the end of March, according to data collected by intelligence platform Conviva, which specializes in streaming media.”

Zoom and other online chat platforms

As of late March, Zoom fatigue, Zoom FOMO, and Zoom hangovers were all results of our work and social lives’ sudden transition to video calls. TikTok, Houseparty, Google Classroom, and Google Hangouts were all among the top free iOS apps. As of May 10, Zoom’s was the second-best performing US-listed stock of 2020, beat only by Moderna—a biotech firm developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

Amazon and other e-commerce and delivery giants

Another stock that’s doing okay? Amazon. In the first quarter, Amazon reported subscription sales, including Amazon Prime memberships, were $5.6 billion of the company’s $77.6 billion in revenues. As Karen Ho reported on Amazon’s conference call with investors, “CFO Brian Olsavsky noted the company’s Prime customers have been shopping more often and for more items. First-time viewers for the company’s Prime Video and digital offerings, such as music and video rentals, also nearly doubled for the month of March.”

The overachiever (proactivus nervosis)

proactivus nervosis
Image: Bárbara Abbês for Quartz

Where to find them in the wild (pre-Covid): 

At the gym, at the spa, at school, at Home Depot.

Where to find them in captivity, online: 

On YouTube watching tutorials and TED Talks; working out on the Peloton app; making the most of their new MasterClass subscription.

What they’re doing in captivity: 

Improving! Performing multi-step facials, highlighting their hair, building squirrel-proof bird-feeders, getting six-pack abs, teaching their kids to code.

Identifying markers:

Glowing skin, discernible muscle tone, non-visible roots, a new skill, and a house without visible dirty laundry or dishes.

What companies they’re feeding: 

Direct-to-consumer and natural skincare companies

According to retail tracker NPD, which monitors the high-end products mainly sold in department and specialty stores, spending on skincare products like serums and masks online outpaced spending on cosmetics in the first quarter. The digital payments company Square also reported that US sellers saw an 186% increase in the sales of beauty “kits” in the four weeks ended on April 20, with sets for home facials, hair color, and pedicures leading the charge.

Khan Academy, MasterClass, and online learning 

The non-profit Khan Academy reported a 250% surge due to young overachievers (ie. kids home from school) and requested that users donate with cryptocurrencies to support the service. MasterClass—which offers a $15 monthly subscription for home- and self-improving courses on everything from Texas-style BBQ to dramatic writing with celebrity teachers like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gordon Ramsay, and Diane von Furstenberg—has also seen a post-Covid boost. And YouTube’s “with me” video series, which features tutorials and activities like “cook with me” and “work out with me,” has seen a 600% uptick in views since March 15.

Peloton and other home workout providers

Peloton—once the butt of many good jokes about bourgeois overachievers—is among the top-performing stocks of 2020, thanks in part to quarantined overachievers who are ordering bikes as fast as Peloton can make them. Other home fitness players that previously competed with gyms and boutique studios are reaping the benefits of their digital savvy. Erin Frankel, the cofounder of JetSweat, a web platform and iOS app that provides subscribers with on-demand video workouts from studios around the world, called the post-Covid demand “insane” (✦).  The fitness stars of social media are also reaping the benefits. On YouTube, Yoga with Adriene videos were viewed some 29 million times in March of 2020—nearly triple the views of March of the previous year.

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