Amidst frantic SOS calls and an overload of information, here are some of the ways you can use social media to contribute towards COVID-19 relief efforts
In the week that went by, a lot of people have called Twitter a healthcare helpline. Other social media platforms are also being used in similar ways by people to share and respond to SOS calls — everyone doing their bit to help each other through the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. As days pass by, the processes (and hashtags) being used for the task are getting more and more organised. Some have even taken up the task of creating websites as resources to funnel down the refine the search for available on-ground resources. In case you are trying to make sense of things and trying to figure how you can help better, here are a few things you can do.
Do not share on-ground contact details without verifying them first. Sharing numbers that are unverified will only lead to unnecessary chaos for those in need. You must always double-check every piece of information you are sharing, even if it was first shared by a trusted source. Use timestamps to help people understand when the information was last verified and delete those SOS calls where help has already been received.
Ask right questions
There is anger in the air and rightfully so. A lot could have been done in the year that went by but wasn’t. Enough has been said to criticise the way authorities have handled this unprecedented crisis. Remember — your anger is justified. However, how you choose to express it is something you can control. Do not abuse the people in power. It might help you remember that most people in power do not look through these hate messages themselves, they have a staff that has to go through these comments for viable pieces of information, queries and suggestions. Question authorities. Use your voice to raise questions that matter, kickstart conversations that do more than just help you vent.
Use Your Influence Well
Irrespective of the number of followers you have, you are bound to have an influence. There are a bunch of people who believe you and trust the information you share. You might even have the ear of someone who can help people on-ground. Your geographical location and the demographics of your community matter — even when the communication is being put up online. You can use this to your advantage for strategic communication.
Do Not Disrupt Relief Work
As much as social media is being used for good, there have been plenty of cases of volunteers being harassed. In case of women, there have been cases of sexual harassment in private messages. There have been also been instances where people have asked volunteers to deliver cigarettes after gaining their attention, posing as a person in distress. Such things not only disrupt relief work, they are also detrimental to the morale of those trying to do something good. Please avoid doing this at all costs.
Use Trigger Warnings
While sharing contact details and stories of people who need help, quite a few visuals are also being shared. Though they offer a glimpse into how bad things are on the ground, they can also trigger people who might be going through a bad time themselves. Try avoiding the use of such imagery in the content you put up and share online. In case you absolutely have to, you must use trigger warnings to warn the people who could be consuming the said content.
Understand The Digital Gap
There is a world of social media and one out of it. The latter is where the COVID-19 crisis is truly unfolding and not a lot of people there have access to the technology required to use social media. If and where you can, try to use your privilege to fill these gaps. If you know someone who needs help, you can use the resources available at your disposal to bridge the gaps and amplify resources in offline modes.
Take Regular Breaks
Things are tough right now. Remember to keep taking breaks in between to ensure you are protective of your mental health. You cannot help anyone if you are not in a good state of physical and/or mental health. Pay heed to your body and take regular breaks. Sleep well. Keep yourself hydrated. Snooze that phone and try to spend some time among real people you know — may it be at home in person or virtually — let yourself have an anchor to help keep you afloat.