Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Stability among the Chaos: Tapping into our irrationality!
While we are facing pandemic, we are also facing a top-flight infodemic bombaring our thought process and mindset constantly in the form of news on coronavirus to communities posting about UFO sightings to fake videos of flying chariots to depict god’s resurrection to seemingly educational business webinars that end up being a franchise sales pitch when you attend one.
We as humanity need to understand that we are living in an age where anyone can become a creator. Now it all boils down to how many good creators are there who do the research, work on their interests to the deepest levels with integrity and honesty and post the content. The answer is indeed a miniscule number of creators! Majority of content that we see online ( >80%) is either replicated from a valid source,or a plain hoax! While the minority works hard to create content, there also lies a huge bulge of creators who often do not have anything unique to share, so they either end up copying the content, or polish the downloaded content to their target audience. But this is not the issue. The real issue at mass scale often happens because of mischievous ones who go to extremities to create fake content or ridicule with our emotions or in some cases incite violence in society.
When we see an economic and social catastrophe hitting our planet and halting most activity in the past few weeks; it is also admissible that the answers we are all looking for are not available with organisations such as the United Nations and other global civil society and medical agencies. This surely becomes a sweet spot for malevolent entities to take over with fabricated answers to our cluelessness and thus, play with our minds. Once we find a case where someone has a proof and shows something to us in the situation of chaos and unorder, our brains feel a bit of ease, and anything that comes that can provide order to our uneasy thought process trying to find answers is taken as a validation and we start believing it, in some cases at mass scale.
How is it all circulating?
Multi level missings: Recently a “Dettol drinking” case came into limelight on social media. It was believed that a pastor in South- Africa made his followers drink disinfectant to cure and avoid them from getting diagnosed with Covid-19 ever in life.This later could not be authenticated and the rumors of 59 deaths which also could not be verified by verifiable sources from news agencies there. So it is clear that misinformation thrives on multiple levels as in one it manipulates a person on understanding that something might be a good/ bad thing to do and secondly on creating a second -level wrong evidence based on the first level missing and so on.
Drinking Dettol saves you from coronavirus: Misinformation Level I
59 people dead after drinking Dettol: Misinformation Level II
The risks of infodemic get multiplied as when the first level info is often wrong and it has the potential of hurting people individually but it can also lead to manifesting violence and unrest on a mass scale based on fake news being spread on the basis of the first layer of fake unverifiable news.
Why should we be more careful than ever?
The risks of infodemic is much worse when the leaders of the biggest democracies in the World often leads people to befool them into taking certain steps which are often not approved and leads to chaos such as in the case of USA president recently admitting to taking hydroxychloroquine tablets to treat himself and others around him. This only fuels more power to fake news agencies as the tablet until now has not been approved by any medical agency for the cure or treatment of covid19.
What should young people do?
Use a magnifying lens on content: We know how much we adore the people we follow, but during these times of less valid information being available; we need to be extra careful to understand better what our leaders and other agencies say. Maybe a reflection of thoughts and opinions and solutions is the need of the hour.
Use Google Wisely: Imagine going to a web page titled: DailyNews_coronatiktokfans page and finding answers for your anxiety might not be the correct thing to do. During these times, it is even more effort that we have to take as individuals to understand news and solutions coming from even big media houses as in many cases it has been found that even they lack valid and relevant info in many cases. Further, also teaching how to browse good news sources to our elders who are often not good with technology is something that can help us all during the period of near ending quarantine.
Controlling our emotions: Practicing emotional and social learning lessons is also the need of the hour. There are many IT cells working round the clock to incite our emotions and making us share content which is invalid and in some cases can lead to mass unrest, hatred and violence in our society.
Practicing Kindness: This helps everyone no matter what. Be kind to others during these times as a small gesture can do wonders in our society. Peace!
By Sehaj Sahni
(The views expressed in the article are the author’s own. Indian Youth Cafe neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)