Infodemic and Pandemic

La Voz de Galicia – January 8, 2021 →

Cristina PatoPerhaps we have learned something this past year: that we and our surroundings are vulnerable and delicate. We knew about the vulnerability of our species and about the delicate nature of the systems that support it, but not all of us had the opportunity to live these two conditions firsthand in a way as intense as this past year. We come as spectators and protagonists in this world-wide representation of uncertainty, and each passing day we are astonished by a bunch of news that seem unbelievable. News that surprise us, as if we didn’t know they were possible, that frighten us, that anger us, and that we don’t always understand.

Sometimes, it is as if we created a «miniworld» for ourselves, so that everything that happens in other places seems so foreign to us that we don’t accept it as our own. Let me explain: a year ago, a virus that first appeared in China was a problem in that part of the world, and until it reached us, we did not decide to act on it; and a few days ago, agitation and misinformation made the longest and most powerful democracy in the world tremble…and don’t we have the same symptoms ourselves?

At the start of the pandemic, the World Health Organization warned of the risks of the COVID-19 infodemic. According to the WHO, that «overabundance of information,» especially false information, could cause great social damage because we all know that in the era of the internet, news–true or false–spread like viruses.

The years of the pandemic will also be years of the infodemic, but perhaps the difference will be that this pandemic, thanks to the vaccine, will pass, but the infodemic will remain because there is no vaccine against it but ourselves…

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