What spreads faster than COVID-19? Fear.

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic essentially shutting the world down, it’s no surprise many have turned to social media to cope with the changing societal landscape, but Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok may be adding to the hysteria rather than quelling it.

The quickest way coronavirus news is being spread is through social media, from the highest level of international news down to our university. Even Emergency Management Specialist Mike Crum suggested to all students that the best way to stay in touch with updates on the COVID-19 situation is through social media. While news may be spreading quicker than ever, so is fear. 

Our biggest issue with social media in the modern age is the spread of fake news through uninformed users and bots, and it becomes harder and harder to sift through our feeds to figure out what information is true and what isn’t. The companies behind our favorite social media sites do their best to stop the spread of fake news, but there’s only so much they can do. 

Since the first coronavirus outbreak, people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to share news, opinions and jokes about the pandemic, but it has now gotten to a point where people are struggling to figure out what is fake and what is fact. With that, people are finding more and more reason to be afraid.

Scrolling through Twitter and Facebook has shown a seemingly endless amount of questionable headlines, photos of empty grocery store shelves and posts about how we’re all going to die. People who wouldn’t normally be afraid find themselves feeding into the anxieties of strangers.

The reaction to this pandemic is unprecedented — I cannot remember anything like this ever happening, but neither can the university administration or even my grandparents. I can’t help but wonder if the reaction has to do with the fears shared through socials. 

I’m certainly not saying it’s unnecessary, but the whole world has shut down, from schools to restaurants to churches. It’s unreal, and nothing has ever warranted this type of reaction.

The deterrent to the spread of COVID-19 is simple — wash your hands. Wash your hands! If you’re healthy, avoid contact with potentially unhealthy people so you don’t get sick yourself. That doesn’t mean buy all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer available.  

What’s scarier than the coronavirus is how quickly the panic has hit the nation. People are preparing for doomsday, hoarding cleaning products and nonperishable goods. What’s even scarier is how willing people are to turn on each other, from fighting in Walmart to buying out essential goods and reselling them for a profit

To echo the many leaders who have said so before, there is no reason to panic, despite what your Facebook feed may lead you to believe. As my momma always says, this too shall pass, and we will be stronger because of it. We will be more knowledgeable and better prepared should there be a next time. 

I would like to remind all my readers not to believe everything you see and remain critical of your news sources. And please, for the love of God, wash your hands.