Thoughts during the self-quarantine period…
# Find accurate knowledge
Among the anxiety and distress of a new pandemic, misinformation is easy to come by. Some say that the COVID-19 has been made into a bigger hype than needful because of social media and sensationalism news. Let’s clarify that.
Free access to specific and detailed information is precious and we are thankful for it. However, filtering information is crucial! There should be no place for fake news in such situations. Let your nephew, your mom, and your friends know how to choose good sources of information and rule out nonsense advice.
Step 1: How to choose sources of information: is it from a trusted news network? Is it from the WHO or CDC or your country’s department of health? Is it being shared by established science communicators such as Kurzgesagt above? When shared on social media, does it come with citations of any of the above sources? If yes then start reading.
Step 2: How to detect nonsense: even if the source is trusted, news cycles are moving at lightning speed and we need to think critically about what we’re told. Is there only one source sharing this information? Does it sound like a miracle cure? Is it being promised very quickly with no expert information backing that up? Is it telling you to go about your life as if there shouldn’t be any care? Is it telling you to panic? If yes then stop reading and find something else.
Good information will be shared by multiple trusted sources that agree with one another. It will come from organizations designed for this and from experts trained for this. Know that this is a developing situation which will change depending on how society changes to deal with it. We will continue to learn more about the virus and rules will continue to change to keep up. As overwhelming as this situation is, it is up to each individual to stay informed and act on behalf of their fellow humans.
Trust established scientists and science communicators. Act with sense and do not panic. And no, garlic will not cure corona virus.
# Share accurate knowledge
Scientists and politicians should speak up clearly and with easy words. We all need concrete guidelines on how to act as the situation develops and it is up to our governments and institutions to set the standards.
We as young scientists and bloggers, not just experts in virology, biology, medicine, and data, should be here to help as much as we are able. Don’t share information without making sure it’s sound! If, in this critical situation, you have the mental strength to speak up online, dispute inaccurate information posts by sharing what’s correct in the comments or a retweet.
# Consider your own contribution to slow down the spread of the virus
The Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology has now told us to stop or pause experiments. They started encouraging that we wind down weeks ago and many people were already working from home. More and more, places are being shut down and people are being told to work from home. This brings inconvenience to the way we work. Certainly delays but also insecurity on the progress of projects and life… will continue. As PhD students, engaged in multiple projects and activities, we needed to freeze everything. No lab work, no colleagues, no presentations, no conferences, no workshops. Our institute, like many others, consists of many international people who are now not able to travel home to our families and friends during this crisis. This, for sure, increases insecurity and stress. However, we have to deal with it and do what’s best for everyone. The situation is extraordinary and hard. But we trust science, we trust the numbers. We see the exponential function and we have done the maths.
In making our decisions, we have to weigh up the “Individual Fun-o-meter” and “Collective Health”. We need to decide to be social vaccines and flatten the curve.
# It is time to think and re-think.
“The question of how pandemics end, depends on how they start.” – Kurzgesagt
Maybe during the days of COVID-19 we will have the opportunity to see things differently and act respectfully. We need to adapt to the new rules of social-distancing, not only for society’s and for our own health, but for our friends, co-workers, and our loved ones. We can flatten the curve only if we act with high responsibility. Extremely important now is to reflect on how we, as individuals and active members of the society, can contribute to ease the given situation. Encouraging employers and scientists to start working from home, when it is possible, creates a more safe feeling. Creative ideas and a plethora of online platforms for communication can help to continue being in contact with colleagues, friends, and family. Talk to each other. This can reduce the feeling of loneliness and keep mental health in balance. Last but not least, now it is critical to show support and solidarity to those who are not able to use all these forms, to those who still work to help us and those with financial difficulties.
Homo Sapiens. Thinking is our tool. Take the time to use it wisely.
This post was written by Katrina Deane & Marina Zempeltzi
Video made by https://www.patreon.com/Kurzgesagtv