Social media has contributed to an 'Infodemic'
The term ‘infodemic,’ formally coined by the World Health Organization, refers to emotional instability caused by the difficulty of finding trustworthy sources. Social media has been a platform for ‘fake news’ during the pandemic, which may have negative impacts on an individual’s mental wellbeing.
Not only is the overabundance of false information confusing and overwhelming, but the constant negative news cycle and excess of factual information (much of which, especially related to the pandemic, is disheartening) can also lead to a significant downtick in mental health. As social distancing continues, people are getting much of their social interaction via social media. When that communication is inherently tied in with news and updates, we begin to associate the exhaustive aspects of social media with the supposedly positive benefits. Additionally, we have seen a major shift in the landscape of mobile apps as screen time increases, and products are developed specifically for the pandemic. While this is objectively helpful, the sheer amount of choices and information can be overwhelming to many. On top of that, social uprising takes on a new form through social media, and its effects are often exhausting; where certain platforms such as Instagram used to be primarily about aesthetics, now you can often find pages peppered with infographics and more factual information (both accurate and inaccurate). Misinformation spreads fast via social media. While companies like Twitter and Facebook are still embroiled in legal battles over who has the right to post what, their users are left in a confusing battle between chaotic governing and corporate greed. None of this improves mental health during this trying time.
While mapping false information may seem like a fool's errand, it actually provides an interesting sociological approach to looking at how information spreads and the methodology of sourcing. These frequent blunders can be used to help fine-tune and regulate how information is sourced. While many forms of social media are shifting from their traditional, casual uses to something more fact-based during the pandemic, users can learn lessons about how fast companies can make changes when they choose to be active. User-based Covid-19 tracking and reminders may concern some as an invasion of privacy. Yet, these methods also allow us to reengage in social activities where we might not be able to otherwise.
Rejecting the premises