From Arthur Miller’s The Crucible to the spicy political debates that occur on Twitter, mob mentality has taken root in many of our key institutions, from our internet activity to the issue of vaccine hesitancy. This, juxtaposed with the alarming rate at which misinformation is spread, has helped foster the emergence of a new kind of pandemic within my community in 2022: an infodemic. Whether it be through TikTok trends spreading the whispers of a new government conspiracy or the outlandish anti-vax tweets that spread like wildfire, we impressionable teenagers are particularly vulnerable to such influences.
In contrast to millennials, Generation Z has grown up under the influences of technology for as long as we can remember, making the rapid spread of information both a blessing and a curse. A day after the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was released, my classmate asked me, “Don’t you think that this is a good opportunity for the government to be putting chips into our vaccine?” I laughed it off, deeming the prospect of a government conspiracy absolutely ludicrous. Little did I know that soon I would ask myself those same questions after having been exposed to so many different news sources and social media posts.
Through my artwork, I wish to convey the same emotions of overwhelm and stress that came from my navigation of the internet in 2022, from the constant struggle between my own fact-based beliefs and the broader digital community to the empty, soulless feeling that came after reading hundreds of Reddit posts on vaccine conspiracies.
So, to my fellow teenagers, I implore you to think critically and carefully analyze your way through our world wide web and help build a post-pandemic digital world that is safer, less overwhelming, and more dependable. While professional scientists have laboriously worked towards a vaccine for the Coronavirus, we are the ones that hold the single cure to the infodemic that is spreading through our online communities — truth.