How do I know which information about covid-19 and Long Covid is true? This is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot. In the early weeks of my Long Covid-journey I remember a friend strongly urging me to drink liters of water every day because it will flush out the virus from my body. I’ve also been contacted by several people from different countries about cold showers, some of them referencing the Wim Hof-technique. And yes, taking Vitamin C in high doses. And so on.
I believe drinking water every day is good for my body, I feel the Wim Hof-technique has some interesting points and making sure my body gets a healthy amount of vitamin C every day also feels important. But are these things in any way connected to 1: not contracting covid-19 in the first place or 2: quickly getting rid of the virus from the body / not becoming a ‘long-hauler’?
I do not think so.
But hey, what do I know, right?
This is the thing. We live in a world where tech companies have totally taken over the information flow that we see on our devices every day. I know this is not news in any way and I’ve written about it before in my blog post Weapons Grade Communication. But since the virus literally came into my house and my body I have noticed that I feel more vulnerable because I really want to understand as much as I can about what I can do to regain my health.
There are people on this earth, and quite large numbers of them too, who believe covid-19 is a hoax and they are taking this energy to the streets. There are also many experts giving their opinion online and some of them sound pretty convincing. When I scroll through my social media feed or google something to try and get an answer, I do not get the same feed and result as you. Why?
In the newly- released Netflix documentary /The Social Dilemma_ former top executives from tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google give a detailed and highly alarming answer to this question. In all seriousness one of them even states that if social media will not be regulated, civil war will be inevitable. Read that last sentence again. And remember: it’s not just anyone saying this, these are the people who were responsible on a high level for the design and functionality of these platforms. But even better: watch this documentary. See beyond the Americanization of it and the sometimes not-so-good acting. Just really listen to what the interviewed people have to say. It will take 1 hour and 34 minutes of your life and it will be well-spent.
Dilemma is a good word to describe this situation we collectively find ourselves in today because social media has incredible positive power as well! It has made all kinds of great things possible; just the fact that I could connect with thousands of people from all over the world who also have Long Covid was, and still is, such a resource for me in my life! Also being able to share my writing with ‘the world’ and finding out that it means something positive to other people. How amazing is that?! But still: watching /The Social Dilemma_ once again makes me super aware of the major negative impact these platforms have on us as human beings, society and our democracy. The dark side of tech, you can say.
30% of 18-44 year olds feel anxious if they haven’t checked Facebook in the last 2 hours*
Is social media a platform for connection or a constant source of distraction?
*source: honest data 2020 / thesocialdilemma.com
The number of countries with political disinformation campaigns on social media doubled in the past 2 years**
Is social media a tool to promote democracy or auctioning our democracy off to the highest bidder?
**source: New York Times 2019 / thesocialdilemma.com
Misinformation travels 6 times faster than real news on Twitter***
Is social media the new way we access information or is it a place where false news always wins out?
***source: MIT Media Lab 2018 / thesocialdilemma.com
I have taken some concrete actions after watching the /The Social Dilemma_ :
1. I turned off notifications on my mobile (the first recommendation of everyone in the documentary)
2. I visited thesocialdilemma.com and read the information available on this site
3. I took a ‘data detox’ with help from datadetoxkit.org
4. I wrote this piece as my way of sharing.
Back to my original question: how do I know which information about covid-19 and Long Covid is true? I honestly don’t know more than to turn off most communication about it and rely solely on a few carefully selected news sources, information from WHO, my country’s national health service and combine this with a moderate reading (it can easily become overwhelming) of other people with Long Covid who communicate about their experience in selected support groups.
Otherwise I try to live my life as social media-unconnected as I can because endless scrolling through my feeds often leaves me feeling empty and tired. I can recognize the surge of energy in my body when I see that someone is liking or commenting something I have posted and I feel how easily this can become addictive. It’s made to have this effect in my brain! So I try to stay away from all of that and just do my thing. It’s challenging sometimes…
It all boils down to awareness, I believe. How do I choose to spend the hours of my day, that turn into the days, weeks, months and years of my life? If covid-19 has taught me anything, it’s a deep feeling that life is incredibly short. So for me, social media can be a small part of it, but I don’t want it taking over my life!
I end with a quote by the journalist, podcast host and author Manoush Zomorodi that stuck with me:
The only people talking about their customers as ‘users’ are drug dealers and tech companies.
Thank you for reading!
Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik – unsplash.com