Coronavirus: Is ignorance bliss?

The rise of media consumption during social distancing made me turn off my phone

Illustration from UVA Today

Whether we’re scrolling through Instagram, messaging coworkers, or at a Netflix watch party, we’re all connected during these weird times. Coronavirus outbreak has drastically changed our ways of living by forcing us to stay inside. But as humans, we crave social interaction and while isolated, internet has been both our savior and doom.

According to a Nielsen analysis, media consumption is expected to be 60% higher during the following weeks. You may have already noticed an increase of posts on your feed or the constant amount of live streams waiting for you to join or just an overall rise of people appearing to be online, some of which you’ve already decided to mute. There’s new apps, new streaming platform subscriptions, new podcasts, new blogs, new videos, new webinars, new everything. Not to mention government statements and new social rules to abide by. We’re being constantly bombarded by so much content that keeping up may be overwhelming for most of us.

For me, reading the news or consuming any sort of media regarding COVID-19 has been quite stressful. From death tolls and spread rates of infection, all the way to the potential disastrous consequences in our economy. Anxiety started to kick in so hard I even had trouble sleeping and my eye started twitching (could’ve been the loads of coffee I’ve been drinking while bored but I’d rather blame it on what seems to be the end of the world.) I started washing my hands after touching anything and felt like crying when people who had been outside came near me. That’s when I stopped reading the news, avoided conversations about this topic, and focused on finding helpful and positive media like this:

which helped a lot and made me realize I am not the only one freaking out. The internet is so vast we can all find what we’re looking for and avoid stress triggers as much as possible.

As social distancing starts to become “the new normal” for a while, people may find their way into new online communities to find support, collaboration, or even religious worship. This will potentially disrupt our definition of society and the way we interact on a daily basis since we’re uniting despite being apart. During the last week, I’ve felt closer to some of my friends, I’ve found comfort by reading texts, and I’ve heard thousands of feelings I never thought I’d be able to identify by the phone.

But being online comes with responsibilities. Be conscious about how you spend your days: not just the content you upload but most importantly the content you consume. Take notice of how long you stare at a screen, try to interact with people by phone or video call. Right now could be a great time to learn a new skill, finish that personal project you always intended to, organize your stuff, among numerous things. Make sure you keep in touch with the ones you love and take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.

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