When SARS broke in 2003, I remember being scared. As a child, I saw flashes of nurses in hazmat suits and climbing death tolls on the telly but life carried on relatively normally. It remains a blip in my memory.
17 years later, we’re dealing with another coronavirus but processing, reacting and handling it in a completely different manner.
One month since COVID-19 took over our conversations and headlines, fear and panic reach new heights along with the number of new cases and deaths each day. While it’s sensible to be more cautious of crowded spaces and increase hygiene standards, unregulated spread of misinformation has evoked unintended and unnecessary reactions such as panic buys, scams and racism.
The Task at Hand:
Action taken to dispel bio-weapon conspiracy theories, slow the toilet paper stockpiling, and/or stress that COVID-19 is not only detrimental to people over 65 has been slim to none.
Politicians are still inaccurately stating the origin of the virus is China, shelves sit empty where toiletries once sat and because the severity of the virus has been downplayed, people continue to hang out in crowds.
Young adults are currently the largest group to be infected by the virus globally, yet over 50% of college students in the US are still out socialising even though 90% of them are worried about transmitting it to vulnerable populations. Go figure.
Social responsibility falls on government bodies, media, public/private sectors and of course, the single individual, but when has fear or panic ever elicited a logical response – especially from young people?
To solve the problem, we have to look at the current circumstances to decide on the right course of action.
The Solution Proposed:
We’re currently witnessing and partaking in the world’s largest “stay-at-home” experiment and the parameters include:
1. Limited physical human contact
2. Higher anxiety levels
3. More screen time
4. Search for community and unity
For young adults, the above spells tragedy. And with no more parties, religious gatherings, community events, brunches, sporting events to drown out pounding news headlines (false or accurate), we turn to new sources to find reason and clarity.
These sources include social media, news stations, government websites, and even company HR departments. Operators behind these channels have a responsibility to to shine a light and disseminate the correct headlines to their users so as a collective, we beat this thing. That guy with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitiser looking to turn a profit? Don’t be that guy.
Scientia potentia est, “knowledge is power”.
Well actually, accurate knowledge is power. The power to resist panic buying, to resist temptation of leaving your house, to resist making blanket judgements about people and to resist sharing conspiracy theories online no matter how good a tale.
COVID-19 is creating seminal moments. Pause, digest & then choose to react because 2020 will continue to throw punches our way. Let’s fight back together (at a social distance of course).