Pandemic Reaction

Pandemic Reaction

How Social Media Has Affected Society

I would make a stand to say the changes facilitated by social media are neither good nor bad. After all, it’s not a car’s fault if a driver chooses to ignore a stop sign. The access to a digital community and culture cannot be inherently good or bad. Manipulation of the platform is what separates the artificial intelligence from human nature. This distinction has always existed, only now, human nature has a seemingly infinite range of influence.

The recent pandemic of COVID 19 is great example of how social media affects our society as a whole and the differences seen in users of various demographics. Low risk individuals, particularly upper middle class with private insurance typically show the least amount of concern and often mock the extreme reactions of their neighbors.

Meanwhile, high risk, low income users have taken to neighborhood group pages in search of assistance like diapers, wipes, toilet paper, and food. These needs have been met with other community members, with many helpful hands belonging to the Millennial generation. They offer everything from shopping for those quarantined to providing meals to children dismissed from school.

Local schools and hospitals have taken to social media to announce progressive developments of the virus. As responders shift their focus from containment to mitigation, suggested individual reactions have changed almost daily. The governor is on the news telling everyone to be tested for the virus, while the local hospitals are only testing individuals with emergency medical conditions pending admission due to virus related symptoms.

Between neighbors criticizing each other’s level of anxiety over this pandemic and regular business and news updates, social media can be almost as toxic as the virus itself. Personal communication on social media only reflects the thoughts of one individual, though their opinion might be popular. One man in my neighborhood writes, “Anyone else basking in the glow of the flawless trash AND recycle pickup today?….. AND then….a perfect U.S. Mail delivery.  #lifeisgood  #[neighborhood]worldproblems  #notoiletpaper2020.” While Children’s Hospital of Colorado posted a link to an FAQ page with a caption, “We have answers to what you’ve wanted to ask a doctor about COVID-19.” It seems the difference between professional social media and personal social media posts is the level of compassion conveyed. Businesses strive to be infinitely helpful and supportive of the customers who support them, while personal aspects of this pandemic leave an every-man-for-themselves mentality.

How can social media actually help in this instance?

Medical practices have utilized YouTube as a resource for patients with chronic illnesses as a form of education.  “Videos created by patients, caregivers, and healthcare practitioners, such as therapists and dietitians, complement videos from health organizations by providing guidelines on aspects such as weight management, exercise, pain management, administering medications, and support needed to actively self-manage chronic conditions. Providers, as well as patients, could use YouTube to share medical information such as health promotions and as a channel for patient education” (Lui et all, 2020). This innovation is ideal for immunosuppressed patients, especially in light of recent needs for social distancing.

The best mitigation measure has come in a secured form of computer mediated communication. TeleDocs and Virtual Urgent Cares are the best avenues to take if someone has a medical need, but are self-quarantine due to illness or having high risk factors.  Zahedi, Walia, & Jain (2016) suggest, “Pressure to develop new ways to deliver medical services encourages change through finding alternative methods, such as treating more than one patient at a time or reliance on opportunities afforded by evolutions in information technologies. Telemedicine emerged as the first phase in this evolution that used web-based communication, such as e-mail, chats, blogs, podcasts, portals, and social networks to provide medical care, and is advocated as a viable option in delivering medical care.” 

Looking at these two very different uses of social media, it might appear that personal communication styles through these platforms lean to the self-serving side, commenting to read and validate one’s own thoughts versus the professional communication which strives to assist and enhance lives of the online community.


Xiao Liu, Bin Zhang, Susarla, A., & Padman, R. (2020). Go to Youtube and Call Me in the Morning: Use of Social Media for Chronic Conditions. MIS Quarterly44(1), 257–283.

Zahedi, F. M., Walia, N., & Jain, H. (2016). Augmented Virtual Doctor Office: Theory-based Design and Assessment. Journal of Management Information Systems33(3), 776–808.


Dacia Arnold is an author that struggles to find a balance of work, motherhood, marriage, writing, and the occasional craft. Her first full length novel, Apparent Power, is in the works to be released December 2018. Dacia served 10 years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and deployed twice to Iraq and often incorporates these experiences into her writings both fiction and non-fiction. She currently lives in Denver, Co with her husband, two children, and a fat beagle named Watson.

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