Information hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Karyna Liudohovska
Karyna is a sociologist and part of the U-Report Ukraine project. She's a student at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University in Kyiv, and promotes youth activism and participation in decision-making.

It may seem difficult to find people who are skeptical about personal hygiene in 2020. And this is indeed true, because in a pandemic, we have started to wash our hands more carefully and be careful about what we might bring to our mouths.

Therefore, my friends, this blog is all about information rather than personal hygiene. Failure to maintain it also causes serious consequences.


1. It’s better to keep your hands washed than your brains.

Remember that we are sensitive to information manipulation. This is what scares, panics or stresses us. Don't get out of balance: talk to your family about various topics, allow yourself to honestly recognize your own emotions. 

 

2. Thousands of microbes appear on your hands every day, and thousands of coronavirus messages appear on the internet every day.

Not all germs and viruses harm our bodies, but some affect the life and activity of 184 countries around the world. By simply washing our hands, we are able to protect ourselves and others from some of the germs. The same is true about information. Filter. Information spreads even faster than a virus, and it can also be harmful. 


3. During quarantine, do not leave your house, but do leave your comfort zone.

This is how we are made – we think the truth is something that we have known and loved for a long time. And common sense says that we may not even think that we live in an information bubble. And social networking and media algorithms keep driving more and more deeply into it. Get out of this zone of total comfort – read media suggesting the polar opposite point of view, double-google everything, add different media outlets to your bookmarks so that you can compare information. This will help YOU keep information under control, not the other way around.

 

4. Strong immunity will help fight both the virus and disinformation.

Healthy nutrition, sport and sleep all make our body stronger before meeting the pathogen. The information environment has a lot of pathogens as well. You need to know them so that you cope when you encounter them face-to-face. Activate your powerful information immunity when you come across:

  • loud and sensational headlines
  • strongly emotionally coloured words
  • 100% confidence in a statement
  • excessive personal thoughts from the author of the news article
  • "rewriting" of a copied story without indicating the primary source.

These indicators should awaken your internal anti-faker. They should signal to you that this piece of news is disputable and therefore cannot be accepted.


5. It’s all about responsibility.

Everyone can indeed be deceived, misinformed, or simply mistaken. But official sources are considered reliable because they are responsible for their words. There is always a certain public authority or a specific editor behind a statement. At least, the real author of the article is already responsible for it. And if it turns out that “everything was wrong” and “everyone cheated,” at least you will have someone to blame. This is an extreme argument, but it may, though, convince skeptics to move to the side of media literacy. When you distribute a sensational video from a channel called, say, Kristisha007, then if it is a lie you won’t have any idea who this phantom is, and YOU will be responsible for spreading this disinformation.

Every one of us has responsibility for spreading, both of the virus and of misinformation.

Share your hygiene information life hacks, let's complete this list together!

 

Want to learn more about how to take action and help fight COVID-19? Visit this page

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