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Beware of social media doomsayers

09 Apr, 2020 - 00:04 0 Views
Beware of social media doomsayers

The Herald

Brian Sedze Correspondent

In physics, there is something called the “observer effect”.

The observer effect is the theory that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon.

I am arguing against the panic that is being induced by the social media over Covid-19 (mostly known as coronavirus) due the observer effect.

A lot are predicting an Armageddon. Over observation changes the phenomenon to overreaction and overreaction can easily make a bad situation worse.

That does not mean that it is a hoax or something that should not be taken seriously. It is serious because our lack of understanding of its origins and how to defeat it makes it so.

Of course, there are two entities trying to re-write the history of this pandemic.

The Chinese government and the American media.

Both may be presenting their own interests, but they share a common cause, of winning on a strategic platform post this pandemic.

But, I am also aware of the penchant of the forces opposed to President Mnangagwa to abide by the Rahm Emmanuel’s rule that no good crisis should go to waste and the media’s corollary, “if you don’t have a crisis when you need one, create one”.

I also know that a response to a thing can be perceived as insufficient if those criticising that response create a mental image of that thing being a thousand times worse than what the thing really is.

Each and every response becomes lethargic and will never be good enough.

In this unfortunate Covid-19 pandemic, unity of purpose is the best way forward.

Both the Government-run institutions and the local authority-run medical facilities are in a parlous state with significant resource challenges.

Medical personnel of both are desirous of a better standard of living.

We all know who is responsible for Government hospitals and also council hospitals. It is prudent in the circumstances to desist from the blame game.

Well before March 21, 2020, we were already being bombarded by social media experts trying to convince us that the virus was already wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe even before any reported case.

That level of self-hate was like we couldn’t wait any more to be affected.

No matter who we hate, panic “observations” just make the crisis look worse.

Every time we are bombarded by “news” of the pandemic having reached uncharted territory in terms of illness and death.

The number of places, the people affected and those who unfortunately passed on is shocking in many people’s minds.

In my opinion, the great coronavirus panic is creating shallow, callous people with objectives other than helping to ensure the nation to follow the rules of engagement.

One social media post by businesswoman Nomathemba Primrose Ndebele was correct to say; “Maybe before you post your conspiracy theories you should post your O-Level results. Because we are wondering how you went from O-Level into your doctorate in virology and your degree in 5G telecommunications”.

It is wiser for people to stick to subject matters that they have some reasonable level of competence.

People are worrying from “news” peddled by doomsayers. A lot are ingesting this apparent scare mongering “hook, line and sinker”.

It is wiser to listen to scientists from credible medical journals. It’s wiser to follow the edicts of government, local authority and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It is even better to plead with God.

All sorts of prescriptions to beat the virus or to avoid it are being peddled left, right and centre.

It is dangerous to assume these remedies are some sort of vaccines. It may be tragic to assume healing will come from these pseudo-science alternative medicine. Death may visit those who do not take professional advice.

In this pandemic, I believe in three things —God, science and love.

We must listen to science on health and hygiene. Science is wisdom and a way to explain God’s kingdom.

Love your neighbours, society and family by physically staying away from them. Love them enough to help those in need from your shelves, farms, bank, pocket and so forth.

It is not the time to score cheap political goals. It’s a time to unite and fight the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a time to put aside hatred and not to disparage efforts being made. Positive critique and solution matrices are what is required.

This pandemic is novel and no one has a solution to conquering it yet, thus quarantine is the best play at the moment. Resources should be directed to the right future interventions.

Both Government, local government and private sector should be allowed to participate in their own spheres.

Some social media so-called pundits don’t know or care how much this kind of negative reaction hurts the Zimbabwean people. It has become as routine they think no more of it than you and I do when we draw a breath.

I mentioned the observer effect for a reason — the outcome of this infection, pandemic changed the moment the threat was recognized and it continues to change daily as we learn more about the virus.

It is true that our medical institutions and medical people are not the best in the world, but every day they gain ground on protecting the public against a full blown pandemic like the Spanish Flu of 1918.

This pandemic is a wake up call for Zimbabwe and Africa to build their own institutions in time.

We’ve had two fatalities in Zimbabwe and in that context, we can’t be considered a hot spot. The country reacted in time on this lockdown.

This lockdown is a global response both in strong and weak economies. The idea that it was invented by some president is just the desire to hate and belittle.

What we should offer is preparedness to curtail further occurrences, financing, medical personnel welfare initiatives and facility upgrades.

And in that critique let us be factual and proffer solutions. I doubt it’s a time to score “I knew it” or “I told you so” points.

Over-reaction can easily make a bad situation worse. Reasonable fear combined with bad logic equals crippling unease — and crippling unease leads to bad decisions.

I think let us follow edicts of science, love and above all else God.

Brian Sedze is strategy consultant and president of Free Enterprise Initiative. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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