Covid-19 and social media

Not even a week into the new year and American politics shocked the world again on January 6th. President Trump‚’s battle cry led to his supporters, fuelled by his incitement to attack the Capitol, break into the chamber and destroy Nancy Pelosi‚’s office because it‚’s what ‚’Ted Cruz would want us to do‚’. Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the mob violence that day was not the breaching of the Capitol walls but was the unrelentless atmosphere of hatred towards the press and news media. Cries of ‚’enemies of the state!‚’ and ‚’fake news media‚’ were heard as Trump supporters stamped on cameras and spat on reporters. This was the footage that scared me the most. In the age of disinformation and divides within journalism, politics and everyday life, covid-19 has dismantled the core of the free press in America and the UK by blurring the lines between conspiracy and truth, President and dictator, democracy and totalitarianism. However, it is said that in times of great hardship and chaos comes true leadership and solutions to problems. We may not see that yet, but the challenge presented by covid-19 is how do we heal our wounds, listen instead of shout and use social media for what it was originally invented for: to connect, unite and create healthy debate (an idea I feel we may have lost this year). To me, pluralism lies at the heart of every healthy democracy and to address this problem we must learn to adapt to the new world of pandemics, social media and conspiracy and not to ignore the problem until it erupts into violence and incomprehensible online noise. As a young person I would like to see our governments embracing the challenge of social media, making connections and rediscovering how to listen, instead of shout.

 

 

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