This is what Social Media was made for

Those that know me are aware of my rants regarding the (ab)use of social media – – particularly the preoccupation of users to share mindless chatter. I’m thinking of buying these shoes. This is how I look this morning. This is me curling my hair. This is what I’m packing for my lunch. This is my dog. This is my dog’s breakfast …

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Recent events are showcasing the magnitude of power that social media truly holds – – the ability to inform and educate. With COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease) spreading throughout the world, it is important, now more than ever, to stay informed – – to stay safe. During a crisis like this, we look to those in authority to react, and more importantly, not to overreact. At a press conference on March 11, it was announced that an Ottawa man, who recently travelled to Austria, tested positive for coronovirus, followed by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson urging the public to remain calm. There are many reports of hoarding and food shortages, as some people panic and race to the stores to stock up on the necessities…like toilet paper? If you do need to be isolated for a couple of weeks, you’ll want to have some additional supplies, like water, medical prescriptions and non-perishable food, but seriously, how much toilet paper do you really need?

One of the best ways to stay informed is to follow trusted sources: news outlets like Global News, and Ottawa Citizen, and organizations like the World Health Organization or your local Public Health Unit which will post updates on their websites and social media feeds (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Information from these sources have been vetted for accuracy. If you don’t know the source, think twice before sharing or retweeting any content. Do post personal updates and check in regularly with family and close friends – – they’ll be glad to know that you’re okay. Share those chicken soup recipes and tips to keep kids entertained if they’re staying home from school.

The Canadian government is taking great measures to keep people informed of the facts and have recently announced a $1Billion support package to aid in the containment of the virus both domestically and globally. There is a section on their main website devoted to Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates. On this site, you’ll find information regarding symptoms, treatments and prevention. I suggest you bookmark this link and refer to it often. Take the necessary precautions to stop the spread of this virus, but also take precautions to stop the spread of misinformation.

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Facebook World Health Organization @WHO upgrades #COVID19 to global pandemic. Stay calm. Stay safe. Stay informed via social media. https://bit.ly/3b1bPz5

Twitter #COVID19 upgraded to global #pandemic. Stay safe. Stay informed via social media. https://bit.ly/3b1bPz5

13 thoughts on “This is what Social Media was made for

  1. Hi Gail!

    I definitely agree about the way people are prone to sharing information through social media without checking things for accuracy. It drives me crazy! I constantly see people post things that they clearly haven’t fact checked, and it only serves to spread misinformation. As a whole, we’ve become lazy and prefer the instant gratification of posting something immediately after seeing it. I think we’re also prone to confirmation bias, and more quickly and easily share things that support our own point of view, whether they’re accurate or not.

    I agree that social media can be a great avenue for up to date information about something like the Coronavirus, but also agree that people need to stick to reliable sources for their information. Social media can be a useful tool for those organizations during times like this, to allow them to get information out to large populations at once, without having to use other resources that may be stretched thin during times like this to trying to manage excessive and often repetitive questions from the public.

    But with all that being said, I will also still be posting photos of my dog haha!

    • Hi Cara,
      Now, I’m intrigued. You’ve got to send me pictures of your pup!
      In regards to false information, I heard on the radio this morning that some people are posing as doctors on social media and giving out advice. We live in a strange world!

  2. Thank you for sharing your trusted sources! I too am verifying the WHO and the Canadian Government sites on a daily basis. I work in an industry where we travel to our international customers on a monthly basis in order to deliver our product. It’s become increasingly difficult to plan our trips in the near term, as you can imagine. I do wonder how the $1 Billion support package will be distributed to help Canadians and Canadian Businesses cope with the losses of revenue. Specifically now that the schools have been closed in Quebec and Ontario and employees have to remain at home, productivity and deliveries will be affected. All in all, the mayor is right – we do need to remain calm! I am trying to repeat that mantra daily!

  3. Hello Gail,

    Loved this post. This is really informative and considering the climate we are in a great topic to discuss. I do agree that social media is great resource for getting information out fast. We must also do our duty and try our best not to panic. I had no idea about the government billion dollar package to help out Canadian citizens. Thank you for sharing this link.

  4. Gail, great post, and thank you for sharing some resources. It is so important to verify the source of your information, and to refrain from spreading “news” that just isn’t true. I get that this can be difficult, we’re getting a lot of statements from officials and politicians, but not all of those statements contain much information. For example, these travel bans. We know that there are bans in place, but what are the specifics? The US is no longer open to Europeans, but can those Europeans already in the States go home? Ideally more information will come soon, but as you said, regardless of what you read – check the source!

    • I agree with you, Rachel. Sometimes it is difficult to find the information that you are looking for, especially when politicians get involved. But as it turns out, the politicians are the ones with the answers right now…sometimes after they speak, I have to wait for the media to interpret what was just said for me.
      With everything that is going on, do you think that we (the collective ‘we’) would open our homes to those who could not return to theirs (like Gander did during 9-11)? I like to think that the best in us will shine through all this.

  5. Hi Gail,

    I think to get the true information we also have to look over different sites. As nowadays the media have a tendency that in order to increase the click rate on the news they wrote, sometime they would describe the fact in a more exaggeration way that would cause the publie in panic. And what we can do right now is only to distinguish the true info and put more focus on self-protection

    • Thanks for the comment, Shirun.
      And yes, the more sites the better! Years ago, each town/city would have multiple newspapers to choose from (one with a liberal slant, one more conservative etc) and people would subscribe to both (one delivered in the AM, one in the PM). Today, people will often only follow feeds that support their own ideals. The key is to gather information, even from those that you may disagree with or don’t typically follow, and make your own decisions.

  6. Gail,
    Thanks for this informative post. I agree we have to be careful when accessing information especially during such times. Misinformation can definitely cause a great deal of unnecessary panic which has clearly been the case based on the past weekend in our grocery stores. I have bookmarked the above link, thank you for this. In the meantime I have just received an email that my gym has now closed… Now to start my improvising at home. Goodnight!

  7. Pingback: Hoax, Lies, and Videotape – Algonquin College Social Media Certificate Program

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