The electrifying social inhibition is building cabin fever. The much-needed momentary respite from the slew of coronavirus related news is building up related tension thereby decreasing productivity, stirring the need for a slow reconciliation. With the extension of the lockdown period, no motivation is working.
To kill the electrification charging my brain with boredom, I am constantly relying on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Quora, being one of the most visited places throughout the day. Social media being the buttress to my boredom, keeps my phone buzzing with notification sounds popping emails, live feeds, text messages, tags in posts, and news from all over the world.
There is no guilt for the surge I put into my online activity. The virtual life is constantly curated and my mind slips into the maelstrom of this digital space.
Some of us know the advantages of social distancing, are practicing it like any other guideline issued by the government. Social media harnessing has become a way of life. We are working with little to no face-to-face contact, with our partners and customers.
Financing critical relationships amid the current catastrophe embrace the use of social media tools capable of conducting business meetings linking all contacts and uniting them one. Famous research firm Nielsen has reportedly shared report of whopping 50X search between 2019 and today. All this is in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The estimated buzz in January was reportedly 0.4 million, with a sudden upturn of 20.3 million by the end of March.
The tremendous spike in social media ran parallel with the intensifying number of coronavirus cases. The upswing in the number of social media users began with Prime Minister announcing nationwide guidelines. For example, the Janata curfew and the 21 days lockdown in March spurt user graph as another surprising event.
We have also seen celebrities, politicians, and players urging people to follow the lockdown with 5-minute gratitude on the Janata curfew increasing reasons for people to be available online.
Part of the population deprived of leisure time is now reading, contributing, and influencing others on social media. Market research conducted by Nielsen has reported COVID-19 related conversations reaching to 22.3 million just by the end of March.
With the onset of online pantry and groceries expanding to 400 cities social media volume doubled thereby picking up significantly when social distancing and quarantining became the new way of life.
The sudden decline in store visits and jump in online shopping have left no choice in the hands of those suffering this lockdown. Another example of a social media spike includes the #seetendoten directive spreading like wildfire. Containment actions require some form of vitality to be harnessed, it seems both obvious and necessary.
Social Media As A Lifeline For Business
Not all business is facing the same crisis. Some are affected mild, some are adapting and hunkering down until things are stabilizing, and also businesses drawing benefits from the corona crisis. There’s nothing irrational but the general nature of the world as a jungle allows survival of the fittest.
Being adaptable and focusing on the basics allow people to survive the most random panic circumstances. The problem arises where people look for items beyond essentials. Several businesses are choosing digital media as their lifeboat. The life-altering condition we are all going through has left no choice but to switch to digital media.
Clients are now building strong customer relationships, innovating ways of communication, and staying connected. This is a gradual effect or being more captive. Everyone at home with smartphones has nothing to do but to harness what’s available online.
For businesses harnessing power during this crisis, you have already built the platform on a stabilizer. Unswerving is this opportunity is picked correctly. Your customers running in crisis are looking for orchestrated strategies to keep themselves connected and extract credible information, relevant feed, potential enough to replace boredom.
Here, in this crisis, they have the opportunity to grab life, which the digital age affords them. Keeping a half-hearted attempt, while socializing or being a part of this digital revolution only brings you crisis, more crisis.
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The surge of social media presence has increased screen time. An average of 3 billion people is active at once collectively on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The significant increase in daily screen time is also looked upon as a 40 grand for targeting people who need to be constrained from spreading otherwise reliable information.
WHO has been working with reporters and journals, updating news on the COVID-19 outbreak, by constantly posting on the websites guiding numerous platforms. Facebook has a separate COVID-19 information center tab, whereas Google Scholar, is promoting articles on COVID-19 specifically, Twitter has taken a hand in providing reliable sources for people who make coronavirus-related searches.
Of course, these measures have been successful but, in some groups, however, not capable enough to kill the buzz created by ticktock. It is still taking the lead despite such challenging measures being taken by others.
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Increased Online Marking And Emergence Of “New Customer”
The purpose of open advertisement with flyers, banners, and posters seem to have no purpose at all. Now with the nationwide lockdown across several countries, it’s feasible for businesses to promote work online. Digital advertisement is the current focus.
Departments of digital advertisement have already predicted a huge increase in ad spend, as consumers are more likely to be online now. The choice of online shopping will not only be an option but treated as the primary business model. People have already established the work from home model thereby avoiding travel, building up the expectation of an increase in mobile and social opportunities.
The captivated watchful eye is now free and so they are bound against no rule of checking their phones frequently. The inflated use of social media is putting up engaging content to keep eyes busy, although tackling self-isolation can be attributed as a part of social responsibility, social media is helping to keep such binge hoppers grounded.
The new customer has a change of opinion, choice, lifestyle, and taste. Be its online presence, be it branding, exploiting, or showing off what you are gathering has already built a target audience. The emotional contacts of this customer are the prime target.
What do they want to hear, what do they want to wear and the prices that seem most feasible are available. Of course, the virus has left a mark in history, constantly updating the pages that will be written. It may seem all acceptable now but allowing a virus to get into the viability of your business in the future does not make you a survivor.
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Information Or Misinformation
No offense but research conducted by WHO has recognized the major role of media in spreading misinformation. This has become a booming challenge. The rapid spread of misinformation being equidistant with the rise of COVID – 19 cases have led to a massive infodemic.
Infodemic is used to imply the over-abundance of information without the morality of truth or false. This makes it hard for people to find trust in the sources and reliable guidance when they need it. My parents often send me messages and screenshots of emails explaining easy tips of prevention.
For example, hot water every day thrice or eating too much of ginger whether in its raw form or the form of juice, self-check of lung function by holding your breath for as much every morning and the like. Believe me or not, spices like Saffron and turmeric do not combat the coronavirus, of course, you can use them to enhance your beauty.
These screenshots have been marked at the bottom with the name of real doctors and Harvard professors. These signatures are easy to find online. I shared it with my group of friends and family, the perk of being a blogger is to have similar friend groups and as soon as you share such news among them, you are flooded with truthful sources and points of hoaxes. Some of this information does come from reputed research and study institutions, making this era of people annoyed and ashamed.
If seen from the practical point of view, we are not much accomplished with the task. We have not been able to stop the circulation of inaccurate information or prevent the spread of news that fancy your mind. Some searches also provide information where yoga instructors welcome the virus, calling it a form of help.
Social Media Infodemic
Academic and medical journals sharing clinical information use anecdotes and write messages in the form of such conviction forcing the observant to escape the actual. A non-medical layperson is not immune to such misinformation. It’s quite obvious that the absorption of inaccurate information acting as a digital incubator of social media will leave all of us being infodemic.
The awareness about correct information helps none of us. The community believing false information to be true never accept reality. If you act as a challenger, you are either threatened or challenged back. Sufficing with correct information also does not help. The correct sources are then treated as sources of misinformation almost like the tip of the pencil moved round and round instead of completing a circle.
Redundant to the use of corrector wrongful information leave us in the dilemma of following the wrong accounts. For example, WHO has 4.6 million followers on Instagram. When you compare this number with Kylie Jenner having 168 million followers, coming up with combat ideas, no matter how many centuries you are running for, your information is either falsified or left unnoticed.
Influencers take advantage of the power and drive the idle community. Not to mention we have celebrities posting the right as well. To name a few we have Ellen DeGeneres with 86 million followers posting videos to combat isolation in the face of social distancing, Ryan Reynolds with 35 million followers has encouraged donations with wife Blake Lively. These postings are centered around the same pandemic although they are multidirectional.
Public Understanding – Leading Crisis
All of this has led to an unprecedented crisis of public understanding. Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit along with their equivalents, WeChat are the primary targets of this crisis. At some point instead of being the mediator of understanding, these act as facilitators and multipliers of misinformation.
The current coronavirus infodemic strikingly increasing public confusion from what was previously thought to be sources of trust, leading to panic fear, and exaggerated claims thereby promoting forms of racism, scapegoating, digital vigilantism, and xenophobia.
The current crisis looks upon the ideas of digital literacy in ways that can combat the impact of social media leading to a post-truth age. The biggest rumors leading to jeopardizing the relationship with the Chinese counterparts was the act of bioweapons research in the laboratory of Wuhan. China was previously blamed, and even now, for the genetic engineering of the COVID-19 virus and then releasing it as a biological war.
This has led to the loss of working relationships between western and Chinese counterparts.
Immediate response and the lack of properly accounted response hit as equal as the crisis and lack of understanding. The problem arises when officials answerable do not provide accurate information. A society living in a post-truth era is thought to be living with subjective opinion and unverified claims, where people do not prefer valid scientific and biomedical facts.
Instead, take public influence as a means to counter the ongoing crisis. Facts and figures are downplayed with arguments and the lack of evidence. The loss of social legitimacy over scientists and experts in the eyes of the public brings to the table nothing but counterfeit days.
Premature pronunciations have post-traumatic effects, as such a complex emergency requires crafted statements to ensure accuracy and also avoid pitfalls at the same time. Little misinterpretation and exaggeration lead to social flunk and paradoxically a careful approach contributes to the formation of an information vacuum. This information vacuum is present through rumors and falsehoods brainwashing a proficient mind.
Part of misinformation is buried with racist content. Of course in a country where cow dung is treated as a remedy against coronavirus, the obvious reinforcement of pre-existing prejudice and biases are enough to create racism. Digging the past, the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto emerged xenophobic reactions.
These reactions are now being repeated in the COVID-19 pandemic. Social media acts as a fuelling channel with point illustration on platforms like WeChat. A recent rumor spread through WeChat targeted at Chinese restaurants in Canada purposefully employing COVID-19 affected employees.
This rumor leads to an 80% loss of its revenue. On the other hand, crowdsource acts as prejudice. Collective organizing is facilitating questionable claims, and beliefs. Not only is the WeChat rumor taking a toll, but approximately 8000 people living in the North of Toronto had also previously demanded the ban of students whose family members traveled to China.
Back in 2003, simple text messages were enough to convey an outbreak. People in China were not targeted in lieu of farse. This left out was despite the efforts of the Chinese government keeping information at bay with the World Health Organisation.
Hyperactive social surroundings finally spread information on atypical pneumonia. This form of the wide circulation of messages held control over online content and created an information vacuum. Later this incident was followed with a veiled criticism of the government.
Prominent whistleblower of COVID-19, Li Wenliang an ophthalmologist posted messages of the spread of the SARS virus. He passed on February 7th, 2020 from complications of SARS attack. This acted as a dominant mode to exploit Chinese social media. Here a billow of messages expressing grief for the person was shared. Simultaneously the Chinese government was held accountable.
Finally, the intervention of state censors removed the post from Li’s account. However, like smart device users, people broke out the news in the form of public outrage, and the demand for free speech and information transparency was constantly forced.
If you are looking for a quick and easy gate through this pandemic, it’s not available. Every little happiness has some sort of compromise. Given the societal importance and safety in mind, we have to make big and small compromises.
Ways to follow the 6-foot distance at grocery stores may act as the prelim towards your first safety step. We may then make good use of the time we spend on the screen and forward it to the generations to come.
Outcome of the post will have to change our mind set up.