Right now, we’re going through a pandemic that hasn’t been seen in a long time. For some who are stuck at home, they’re always looking for fun things to do while they wait out the storm, and for others, they are busy on social media, reading everything they can about the virus. They may be stockpiling, which can be a good thing unless people are gouging prices, but they may be doing it for the wrong reasons.
There’s a lot of misinformation about the virus out there, some of which can be causing stress and possibly be dangerous for the people reading it. Here are some examples of misinformation.
Downplaying or Exaggerating the Virus
This piece of misinformation has two extremes. You have one camp that says the virus is nothing to worry about, that it’s the same as a cold. They may encourage you to live your life as usual and to not let you tell anyone otherwise. This can be dangerous because this virus is new, and you don’t have any immunity to it. While you may not worry about getting sick, you risk infecting other people, possibly the elderly and the immunocompromised.
Then, you have the camp who exaggerates the virus. They’ll say that if you get it, you’re guaranteed to die, and that it’s going to destroy the world. This can make you extremely fearful, jumpstart your anxiety, and make you purchase items that can ruin your bank account.
With this, the solution is for you to look up information about the virus through the WHO and other reliable sources. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the virus, so it’s important that you do keep yourself updated every chance you get.
With any disease, there is going to be an alternative medicine market that says they have the cure. Right now, many different people from these outlets are telling you ways you can treat or prevent the virus naturally, usually using foods, essential oils, or other medicine.
You see these types for diseases such as cancer. The idea that a scary disease is easily curable is a comforting thought, but the truth is that alternative medicine is going to do nothing for your symptoms. Sometimes, it may make things worse.
As of this post, there is no vaccine or approved medicine to treat it, so anything you hear is speculation or worse, a flat out lie. It’s important you talk to your doctor about any possible medication you take, and to do your research beforehand.
The Conspiracy Theorist
Whenever there is a tragic event, there’s always a group of people to point fingers, and often, the premise is that nothing is at it seems. The idea that a virus could have come from an animal and passed to humans seems too farfetched, so it must be the work of a shadowy group or a weapon developed to bring down a country.
This type of misinformation is comforting in a strange way, because there’s something tangible to blame it on instead of a bunch of people. Some theorists may base their information on a kernel of truth, or use the real conspiracies of the past. However, the conspiracy theorist can spread misinformation about the virus, or put people against a certain group of people they claim is responsible.
Sometimes, they can be fun to read, but as they say, don’t read everything you read on the Internet, and take everything with a grain of salt.
The Out of Contexter
This person may post pics, videos, and other pieces of media to prove a conspiracy or to blame a group of people, but the photos they post may be out of context or old. It’s always important for you to investigate where the photo or videos came from. With photos, it’s especially easy to do, since you can reverse image search.
Photos and videos are always good evidence, but on the Internet, anything can be manipulated or taken out of context.
Armchair Medical Advice
This is someone whose heart is in the right place. They may give you medical advice or ways to avoid the virus, but may not have a good understanding of it themselves. Unless they are a doctor or have a degree in a related field, take any medical advice you hear from people on social media with a grain of salt.
How to Avoid Misinformation
Here are some ways you can avoid misinformation:
Give Your Social Media A Cleaning
If there’s someone who is spreading conspiracies or other misinformation about the virus, it’s best to take a break from them. Mute, unfollow, and if they’re really bothering you, give them an unfriend.
Reduce Your Social Media Use
While you want to stay connected to people, you shouldn’t spend your day scrolling through fear mongering posts and other pieces of misinformation. Too much social media use is just bad for you, anyway. Instead, why not reduce the amount of time you spend on social media?
Take A Certain Amount of Time Out of Your Day to Read About it
Spending all day reading article after article about it will just make you fearful, and plus, you could be using that time doing something more fruitful. So instead, have a certain time to catch up about the news.
Have Reliable Sources
Use government websites, news sources that cite their information, fact checking blogs, and other reliable sources. While everyone has a different definition of what’s reliable and what isn’t, make sure what you’re reading has evidence to back it up.
If you can’t stop reading about COVID-19, or are wondering what to do with your life right now, then it’s important that you seek help from a therapist or counselor. Online therapy can help you while you’re at home, tackling your depression, anxiety, or any other sensation you’re feeling. By seeking help, you can be able to improve your overall state of mind.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.