Phone showing tweets from World Health Organization

The Many Sides to Information in this COVID-19 Crisis

They say knowledge is power. Well, what do we say about information? Information is power also, as it births knowledge. So if information is power, then permit me to say that the pandemic has helped us exploit this power both negatively and positively. The various media channels (TV, internet/social media, radio and even word of mouth) have helped amplify the power of information. The different sides to information surely stirs up a mix of emotions – laughter, anger, hysteria and even the somber mood.

Talking about the laughable side to almighty information during this time especially, one cannot but laugh at the hysteria displayed by our typical Nigerian mothers and aunts. This time has shown that mothers would always be mothers and would love us with everything they have even with their WhatsApp BCs that make us laugh. Hold up! Wipe that smirk off your face. Like you have not gotten one of those “turmeric this, ginger that…. or drink plenty hot water ….” BCs from mothers and aunts during this period.  They are usually overzealous especially with information related to health and life matters so they take in and forward messages without verifying its authenticity.

However laughable these BCs might be, most are news passing on misinformation. This brings me to the problem of fake news ravaging the society alongside the virus. The rate at which fake news is circulated is alarming. The panic and paranoia experienced by most people is more as a result of fake news consumed than as a result of the virus itself. What is even sadder is that curators of fake news do it for unnecessary clout or to aid their fraudulent intents and activities. This pandemic has truly shown that information is at our fingertips and what we do with it can directly or indirectly affect the society as a whole. So it is important we place value on information and choose to do the logical right thing with it always.

Again, information might have activated the serious mode or should I say the more serious mode in us. We find ourselves staying up to date with current happenings and trends on our TV channels and the internet. Now more than ever, more people tune in to News @ 10 which can subtly be tagged COVID-19 news @ 10. The major headline of all news presently is about the current pandemic affecting the country as a whole. The only breaking news we expect to hear are newly confirmed COVID-19 cases.  Also, there seems to be some kind of synchronization amongst us as those privy to such breaking news first would never fail to update their friends and associates through WhatsApp status updates. Like play like play we have all become newscasters, committed to making each other stay abreast of current updates – as e dey hot right. At least we can agree on one thing, everyone is entitled to know what is happening and be updated irrespective of one’s location or class.

Well, on a brighter note, information in form of knowledge has been more accessible than before and doesn’t always have to demand a monetary price in return. The pandemic unlocked access to online courses originally worth substantial amounts and other free online courses offered by prestigious academies. Most people that have been looking to upskill and continue learning have jumped on these opportunities. At least if we cannot go out and secure the bag, we can as well stay home and secure the certificate right. Now everyone including me seem to want to bag a PhD before the pandemic ends (kindly read this last statement again with a stint of *sarcasm, lol).

However, in light of all information available, it seems not to be doing enough. This is because some people still remain skeptical about the virus or do not take it serious enough. Moreover, some people would still choose to believe anything that seems easier to believe like how the virus cannot survive in hot weather etc., rather than believe facts.  ( Read more on Common Covid-19 Myths here).
Some people have been defiant about the restrictions imposed in the country and while we might argue against or in favour of such acts, neither would be the case to deliberate today. So in spite of everything that may be going on, let’s keep our hopes alive while we stay safe and avoid spread of unverified information.

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