Calm in the coronavirus 'infodemic'

The virus is dangerous but so is misinformation about it.

Nikola Blagojević
Nikola
UNICEF

27 March 2020

About the author

Nikola Blagojević, 20, from Pirot is a poet, folklore dancer but also an artist in the fields of photography, acting and painting. At the beginning of 2019, he published his first collection of poems and a biographical novel and he is currently working on the second collection of poetry and several other works. He is a member of the Creative Creators Union of Morocco and received an award from India for contributing to world peace through poetry. 

How can we stay calm at a time when carefulness is very rare in people? You can't be sure about anything you heard or read, and you must evaluate what is relevant, especially if the health and safety of all of us is in question. In the digital age, the greatest friend and at the same time the greatest enemy are the media and the high speed of information. It is really difficult to recognize which information is verified and accurate and which is not. This phenomenon even has a name - infodemics. When it comes to the virus, we cannot be sure of anything, even when an expert recommends how to behave. We need to double check all information and use our head - what is best for us and for all people around us.

Different websites say that ordinary flu kills many more people than the coronavirus. This is somewhat true, but coronavirus is transmitted much faster and easier than ordinary flu, especially when combined with some unreliable treatments. Are such things as brandy and garlic of any help or do we have to follow preventive measures and act responsibly? These and many other pieces of information surround us as well as many different interpretations.

Various theories and attitudes exist about how dangerous this virus really is. Sometimes I see sponsored posts or instructions that contain advertisements, so they do not reflect the true situation.

Just as we thoroughly wash our hands, we also need to think about which messages and news we can trust. So always check the source of information and do not spread the news unless you are sure that it's reliable.

We need to be aware that the virus is dangerous, especially for people with respiratory problems, we need to behave cautiously, in solidarity with fellow citizens. What we shouldn’t do is to contribute to the feeling of uncertainty, or even worse - panic.

We should avoid physical contact, provide support to those who need it, give advice and verify information, and apply all other measures that are advised by verified sources. With this approach, we do not only protect ourselves, but we also protect others.

When is the best time to help someone? The answer is: now. If we behave responsibly, we have nothing to fear, and this is closely linked to the spread of reliable news. It is the responsibility of each of us, especially at a time when information is being disseminated on social networks rapidly and when we, young people, find it there, but also create and share it ourselves.