What If Social Media didn’t exist during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages on, it’s very hard to steer away from the horrid situation it has bestowed upon the face of the earth. From countries going into total lockdowns which may last till 2021, a forecast on hefty losses due to a long-term closure of business to an impending blow to economies across the globe.
It’s hard for one not to brood at the crisis.
COVID-19 has brewed anxiousness and brought distress into the lives of billions of people around the world. As all of this goes on, social media has continued to play a vital role in keeping the world informed about the extent and seriousness of the pandemic.
As the world continues to practice social distancing and self-isolation as advised by the World Health Organisation and governments, it has not stopped us from connecting and sharing online more than ever.
Social media companies say that the usage growth since the COVID-19 outbreak is unprecedented across the industry, and they’re are experiencing new records in usage almost every day.
Facebook reports that in many of the countries hit hardest by the virus, total messaging has increased more than 50% over the last month and voice and video calls have more than doubled on Messenger and WhatsApp.
While I did my due diligence in practising social distancing, my curiosity drove me into wondering what it would be like if there was no social media during these tough times. What would it have been like if we didn’t have an idea or clue about what we were dealing with and now that we have social media what has it helped?
Here are my thoughts.
The Bad & Ugly
In the midst of the pandemic and it’s rapid spread across the globe lies a big problem before us. The spread of information is faster than COVID-19 itself; From conspiracy theories, a vile pile of truths and lies, sensational reporting about the situation by both reputable and louche media houses and journalists, the masses that have taken to social media to share unfiltered information at the speed of light leaving the world at the edge.
Since the coronavirus exploded in early 2020 owning the global headlines, it has re-birthed and re-fueled a new wave of sharing misleading and false information across social media, most of it startling and appalling.
What’s even more baffling is that the news of those recovering from the coronavirus isn’t getting as much media attention as the number of deaths. It’s as though everyone wants to stay in a ghastly state so bad during the crisis and clear all ounces of hope of ever containing the pandemic.
While social media companies have taken the frontline in helping to keep the spread of misinformation to a minimum, they can only do so much in the shortest time possible because of how instant and fast fake news is spreading. WhatsApp is home to the biggest breeding ground for unverified and false claims during this crisis.
Hundreds and thousands of misleading troves of information and conspiracy theories are being shared across WhatsApp groups and gullible and naive users are spreading this information with so much ease and speed and this has catalysed panic and brewed uncertainty.
This has thrown people into a frenzy.
In many parts, People are panic buying items such as toilet paper and hand sanitisers due to fears of the coronavirus spreading because of what they’ve seen in the reports. You can’t really blame them from how the news has been delivered to them with some countries going into total lockdown.
In Nigeria, health authorities are warning against self-medicating, after two patients overdosed on the anti-malaria drug chloroquine, which President Trump had praised as a possible treatment for coronavirus.
While everyone is pleased with just how much information is available about the pandemic, we ought to be careful with whatever material we choose to consume. Some of our relatives have turned into health experts overnight.
Is it from a credible source, is it true, what does the World Health Organisation say about it, what are the authorities saying about this? This may not be easy for everyone but doing a portion of it may drive each one of us a long way.
There are unscrupulous elements out there that are shamelessly using social media to peddle misinformation and fake news and this is not helping matters.
If we didn’t have social media, all this would not be happening but at what cost?
Maybe we’d have listen to and only believe what the authorities have to say on television, a statement in the newspapers, a communication on radio or billboards. Maybe we wouldn’t be forwarding long-chains of WhatsApp messages stuffed with fake news to one another.
But hey, maybe we are actually past that era of slowed circulation information and we need to work with what we’ve got to make things better and have a lot to thank social media for.
The most important string of hope that’s still holding the world together as everything seems to fall apart is social media. Various platforms have continued to play an important role in the dissemination of information during the outbreak of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
As the pandemic escalates, so do the conversations on how to prevent it’s spread through different messages. The World Health Organization and other authorities at the forefront of this fight have leveraged the use of social media to regularly circulate guidance across the globe.
Today, the world rigorously deals with a serious public health emergency and at the same time unities on social media to uphold a culture of preparedness, response and which has us taking all forms of safety measures and precautions.
While we used to whine about how social media companies were using our data for their own gain, reports show that social media data can be analyzed in real-time to understand and model the transmission and trajectory of COVID-19.
You’ve got to agree with me that without social media, practices of self-quarantine and social isolation would be so hard to deal with. Lemme explain.
While everything to do with the pandemic is going on, I asked a friend why he’s sharing memes and jokes in such a serious time. His response was prudent.
He said; I am doing this to tame my anxiety and to stay away from the panic that’s happening the world over.
His argument made sense. Everyone seems to be scared of what’s coming. You can’t blame anyone, the numbers are frightening each day that goes by and we don’t really know what to expect.
On social media, instead of frowning and grieving about the pandemic, memes are bringing a smile unto people’s faces, they have a little string of hope. Even if it’s laughter for seconds, social media is giving them just that and it’s a little cheer we may all need after all.
While the outbreak intensifies, social media continues to remind us of the importance of social distancing and quarantine measures. People are coping with isolation, entertaining each other and socializing more than ever and that’s the stray of hope we all need through this coronavirus storm.
Stay Safe, Stay Home.