It’s been just over three and a half weeks since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in South Africa, prior to that news of the virus was in the media but information was trickling in and I guess most South African’s weren’t too worried because it didn’t affect them directly. Then the first reported case was reported on the 5th of March and it seemed like overnight the barrage of information started coming in from every angle.
Self-proclaimed “experts” were posting all over social media about what to expect. Government officials were tweeting about rumblings that “couldn’t be confirmed” as to what government was going to do about the pandemic. It seemed like overnight ever single channel I engage with people on was flooded with some or other information about Corona ranging from funny memes to in depth analytical pieces showing all the facts and figures to local papers showing retailers trying to reassure patrons about safety and food supply. It feels like for the past three and a half weeks the only thing I seem to read, speak to people about or hear on the news is related to Corona and it’s been incredibly overwhelming.
How I’ve decided to react to this?
It would be silly to isolate yourself from all the news at this time, and let’s face it the funny video’s and memes help to ease anxiety. As the old adage goes – laughter is often the best medicine.
I’m going to be timeboxing exposure to news feeds, television & YouTube news broadcasts, social media platforms, WhatsApp groups etc. to a maximum of 2 hours a day (less on weekends). What this in turn will do is force me to choose the channels a interact with wisely and practice discernment. Reading every article someone posts and interacting with ever meme and examining every statistic that comes at me I believe exaggerates the symptoms of fear and its effects. It’s just not worth being tuned in every minute of every day. Short of Armageddon breaking out I’m certain that being a few hours behind in news and the latest updates won’t materially affect my life.
The other thing I will be doing is verifying information that comes at me, especially articles that start off with headings like “BREAKING NEWS! COVID -19 is confirmed as airborne and remain 8 hrs in air! So everyone is required to wear mask everywhere!!” this came with a link to an article where in the WHO were announcing that essential service workers were being advised to wear face masks. The heading would have prompted everyone who read it to rush out and buy masks thus limiting the supply of masks to the people who need them. Really the heading was both inciting fear and promoting the spread of misinformation. Right…. I’m closing this laptop, leaving my phone in another room and going to spend some time with my husband and dogs. If you have read this far then, thank you for choosing this blog as one of the streams of information you are exposing yourself to during this time! Also if you have any suggestions on how to constructively limit exposure to negative information then let me know in the comments.