Almost a century ago, during the 1918 pandemic flu, which the CDC estimates infected one third of the world’s population, primary information regarding the flu was shared via postal workers, boy scouts and teachers.
Can you imagine having learned about Covid-19 from a boy scout knocking at your door, encouraging you to wash your hands?
As 2020 rolled in, we can say that whatever information we have about this pandemic is because of social media. Social media has not only helped governments and the WHO create situational awareness, monitor and respond to rumours, maintain public relations during the pandemic, but also engaged with people, brought awareness about the virus and timely updated us with the latest rules of government and reputable organisations.
Despite the importance of rapid access to information in this critical situation, inaccurate or false information in the format of rumors or unreliable news has led to misunderstandings in the community, which has only made the situation worse. The best rule of thumb for making sure that information is accurate is by looking for the original source and make sure that (a) those sources are indeed trustworthy, and (b)the information was relayed accurately.
Amidst the ongoing pandemic, there is likely to be an adverse impact on our mental, physical, financial and professional health. The pandemic has left most people feeling anxious. People are looking for support amid the uncertainty as we need to feel connected now more than ever before. To stay connected, virtually, video interaction chatting and sharing and checking through stories is on the rise.
In the absence of seeing friends and colleagues in person, the use of social media has increased a lot more during the lockdown. Data also points likewise. Before the lockdown, the average usage of social media was 150 minutes per day. However, in the first week of lockdown, the figures jumped to 280 minutes per day, showed a survey. The survey added that 75% of the people were spending more time on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp compared to the week before. People were largely consuming news and communicating with their friends and families during this time.
Moreover, this difficult time is creating jealousy and the feeling of comparison with other people and their respective careers. The worst, self-destructive tendency is framing its own academic career in terms of other people’s achievements. Social media is not helping us with these unhealthy feelings in any way. Encountering someone else celebrating a paper or grant on social media can sometimes make us feel envious of their success.
The nature of impact of social media on people varies on an individual’s age and level of education. The other new normals worth mentioning during this pandemic are:
These are just millions of examples where people have shown their support and empathy on social media.