Social Media Distancing


Social Media Distancing

This “Social Distancing” phenomenon we are currently practicing could be applied to our social media behavior itself.

By now it should be clear to everyone why we are practicing social distancing: It is to stop the spread of the virus by becoming carriers.

Some of us who are in good health may not be severely impacted by the virus. But by carrying the virus to more vulnerable populations, we increase the overall mortality rate. And of course if too many vulnerable people need medical services, it can overwhelm the medical system. This also means that if you need to use the medical system for other problems, you may not be able to.

The exact same thing is true of social media itself. There are a lot of “information viruses” spreading around.

(An information virus is any kind of fake news, daily outrage, conspiracy theories, extreme political propaganda etc. It is usually in the form of a meme or video or a “news” item.)

Now, some of us may be healthy information consumers. We look at such items and quickly ignore them. Or may be get outraged a bit or chuckle and then move on to something else. But if we interact with those items in any way, such as “liking”, sharing, commenting, then we become carriers. Even if we are well intentioned. Even if we are sharing it as “look at this stupid thing someone said or did”.

Because, even if you yourself are a healthy information consumer, some people in your circles are “vulnerable” to such stuff. They might actually believe it and thus become afflicted by it. In fact, this is mostly how these information viruses spread – using the “healthy” people to spread to the “vulnerable” ones.

Moreover, this overwhelms the social media space by drowning out other “healthy” conversations.

And the remedy is also very similar: practicing “social media distancing”: keep your distance from such nonsense. Not necessarily from all of social media (though that might be a fine thing to do), but at least from information viruses. Do not interact, like, forward, share, comment on such stuff. And mute or block the “super spreaders”.

I know social media distancing is hard to do just like social distancing. I myself fail sometimes, but it’s good to keep working on getting better at it. Let’s hope that in a month or two we can look back at this dark period in our lives and feel good that we succeeded despite the odds.