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COVID-19 and the Role of Mass Media


Authored by - Anjali Shekhawat

Keywords - COVID-19, Global Pandemic, Severe Spread, Mass Media, Social Media, Awareness, Connecting the Mass


Abstract


Our globe has been hit by a really peculiar pandemic that has turned our daily lives upside down and has delimited our capabilities to work freely. It is a severe acute respiratory syndrome called Coronavirus which is of contagious nature (can spread through a mere touch). ‘During this crisis, lack of awareness, knowledge, and preparedness would put human beings and health care staff at risk. Delivering fast, accurate and reliable information addressing critical problems of infection control is, therefore, of key importance[1].’ The broadcast of important information to the mass was significant to contain the spread of the virus on a large scale. Even when lakhs of people are dying every day, mass media has not only kept people from terrifying and resort to undesirable behavior but also held them together in a way to reduce loneliness and give them hope.


Introduction


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause respiratory infections and the most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID 19[2]. The diseases have become a very serious global pandemic and are hindering the growth of the economy, society, etc. This virus has changed the scenario of our world forever. It has dragged many economies far aback from growth, took many societies from developing stage to blank stage. A few months ago, nobody would have thought about a disease that can push and lock every human being in their houses. Human is known to be a social animal, and now our lives have taken a turn where that is to avoided to live. A human being is dependent on his relationship with others and his ability to work, for the sustainability of life and now that has been stopped for months to save lives. People are forced to live in isolation since the outbreak of this disease. People are suffering from depression, loneliness, laziness, idleness, lack of education and work, poverty, lack of resources, etc. What has come to a certain rescue has been the mass media which has enabled the awareness of people and kept them engaged in different activities that can help them stay positive. Newspapers and Televisions have kept people up to date on the status and also continuous broadcast of precautions from the virus has brought much relief than it would have otherwise. Especially social media has been an astounding and stupendous platform for people to know, to connect with others even in isolation, to keep them positive, to engage them in activities like making funny videos &doing trends, etc. Social media has proven to be the milestone of public health, safety and awareness during this horrible situation.


Role of Mass Media


The world is indeed blessed to have technology where information about such pandemics can be transmitted to the whole world in seconds and thus people can stay aware and alert of the spread. But even after this, the situation has worsened at many places as it is extremely difficult to contain a virus that spreads by mere touch. Mass Media has assisted governments, leaders, police, doctor, etc. in stabilizing the situation and; containing spread by transmitting messages, videos, speeches & others to common people. India has many areas with a lack of proper internet connection and television availability but even in these places, people have been made aware of the virus with help of mass media. Online media platforms and connecting apps such as Google Meet, Zoom, Instagram, WebEx, and others have made it possible for people to continue their work and education.


1. Mass Media made it possible to access online classes and it has connected teachers to students through online platforms which resulted in the continuation of Education during a global pandemic. The Internet has made it possible for employers to work from home.

2. Different Social Media platforms continued to spread inspiration among us to enjoy and engage ourselves in recreational activities. It encouraged to maintain a positive attitude and thus saved many from depression, feeling of isolation, and loneliness.

3. Government works, International conferences, and other political conferences have been carried out through online platforms and live broadcasts. WHO guidelines can be accessed by common people in seconds through the internet.

4. Economical activities like stock marketing, online banking have been possible and thus helped in maintaining the economy stable.

5. Social Media has connected people in remote areas to their friends and relatives. It has served as a way of entertainment, upliftment, recreation, motivation and reduced the feeling of isolation. It has engaged people in activities to keep them motivated and innumerable trends have developed during this particular period.

6. The Most Important was the spread of news reports, status and awareness of COVID-19 to the mass. The precautions to take, the method of quarantine, medication, steps to follow in public gatherings, have outspread to everybody and helped in controlling Corona.


Analysis


Mass media has omitted the possibility of oblivion to an appreciable level. It is through technological advancement in the field of mass media that we are able to continue and sustain our work, education, health, and our lives in the scenario of a highly contagious global pandemic. There have been some complications such as people were frightened, they were misguided by many sources, more possibility of cybercrimes, negative effects on health, hearing and vision abilities through continuous use of mobile phones either for work or education, developing depression due indulgent in the gadgets, increased obesity, idleness and laziness and other troubles have been there. A significant amount of potentially dangerous misinformation has been generated about the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of it has been disseminated via social networks[3]. Under these unavoidable circumstances, certain things cannot be avoided on the whole level. It has impacted mental health severely and it is vital to encourage a sense of urgency in focusing research, investment, and public attention on how digital spaces and tools can be better designed and used to support youth’s mental health[4]. On the other hand, it aided people in understanding what’s happening so that they can weather this current crisis and survive this pandemic. To a great extent, mass media has been able to make the best out of a worse situation. Our world should be grateful to be able to access information and connect with distant friends with help of technology, otherwise, this pandemic would have resulted in much more damage to our lives than one can imagine.


[1] Sahni H, Sharma H., “Role of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic: Beneficial, destructive, or reconstructive?”, Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2020, 70-5, http://www.ijam-web.org/text.asp?2020/6/2/70/287959. [2] “Q&A on Coronavirus”, WHO, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses. [3] Sahni H, Sharma H., “Role of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic: Beneficial, destructive, or reconstructive?”, Int J Acad Med [serial online] 2020, 70-5, http://www.ijam-web.org/text.asp?2020/6/2/70/287959. [4] Alfea Jamal, “Covid-19: Here’s how teens are using social media, technology to support each other amid social distancing”, Hindustan Times, 24th June 2020, https://www.hindustantimes.com/sex-and-relationships/covid-19-here-s-how-teens-are-using-social-media-technology-to-support-each-other-amid-social-distancing/story-PBLDaifg8wX9VgtdD6B9aI.html.