Years and years ago, someone dear to me told me about this miraculous thingamajig which would cure a whole range of illnesses. She told me that her mother was using it and feeling so much healthier for it. Soon enough, I took some of the brown fungus like stuff from her, soaked it in some water overnight and then drank the disgusting water each morning as if my life depended on consuming the foul-smelling and tasting stuff. If memory serves me right, I convinced quite a few people to start having the vile drink too. For a while there, we all thought we had found the elixir of youth and longevity! As you can imagine, the enthusiasm died after a while and everyone stopped drinking the ‘elixir’ and of course, each of us realized it wasn’t everything we thought it was. I don’t know of too many people who don’t get carried away by something they read, hear or believe and consequently end up indulging in the absurd or harmful.
I have pondered on this for a while, why do we blindly believe what we do? It probably has to do with how we feel about the person who is the source of information, or whenever the message suits our beliefs and agendas or maybe we end up following the masses. There are those who are masters in taking advantage of the vulnerability and weak spots of people and manipulate information to amuse themselves, feel powerful or fool people.
This passing craze for drinking the fungal tea for health and longevity was in a time before social media helped to spread news and information at the speed of light. In the present times, there is an abundance of graduates from what has come to be known by many, as WhatsApp university. If we read it on platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter – it must be true. Furthermore, if someone we like or respect has posted it or forwarded it, it has to be gospel truth. If it is a prediction made by a supposed expert – then those who do not believe it are absolute fools. Things go viral in the blink of an eye.
There is no denying that viral news has its benefits, like an unknown artist getting due recognition because of viral posts. The thing we often forget is that viral is not bona fide.
Sometime ago, there was a WhatsApp post of an audio file along with the picture of the Sun; apparently the sound the Sun made was like the Hindu ‘Om’. All one had to do was go to the Nasa site and check the sound of Sun to know that this was a hoax.
That is all that is required in these times of a pandemic of mammoth proportions like COVID 19, it is even more important for us to avoid any sort of panic or false reassurances and rely on the authorities alone. All government bodies concerned are working overtime to do whatever they can and since we don’t know everything there is to know, it’s not just best, it is important to refrain from opining publicly.
It’s not to say that we should keep mum about our opinions and thoughts on what is obviously a grave situation that has brought the world to its knees. Speaking with those we are close to can and does allay our fears and helps in sharing legitimate and invaluable information. Airing our half-informed thoughts and experiences on Social media is another thing and is often damaging. Then there is mass hysteria, we go with what the crowd is doing, and uncontainable harm ensues, the Chicken Little Syndrome takes over.
While the main intent of this post of mine is to tell those who will care to listen not to spread or believe any old message about Corona Virus; there is much virtue in our validating all information that doesn’t originate from the authorities concerned. Just yesterday, somewhere in some village in India, some people buried thousands of live chickens because somebody informed them of chicken being the source of the ailment. That is the power of unvalidated information – it causes hysteria and uncontrollable fear.
If each of us stays focused on taking the right care, using reason and following the recommendations and instructions of the government bodies concerned I am sure we will be making the right choice.