Social media insensitivity: COVID-19 divides and unites students


Preksha Kedilaya

Examples of recent Instagram captions made by PV students during their spring break travels regarding the current coronavirus situation.

Preksha Kedilaya, News Editor

Generation Z is known to be culturally diverse, accepting and tolerant, however students traveling during a time of recommended quarantine is becoming a catalyst for insensitivity through social media. 

Although many spring break travelers canceled their trips, some did not. However, the recommendation to self-quarantine recently has forced many travelers to head home early. 

Isolation will help combat the spread of the virus, but the recent lack of respect and insensitivity shown through social media has many people losing hope.

In order to prevent following the trajectory of Italy, self-quarantine is the most effective route. In Italy, the number of cases skyrocketed from just a handful of cases to now more than 27,000 cases with over 2,100 deaths in just a few weeks. This is due to the contagious aspect of the virus. Each case seems to infect around two to two and half additional people, which is higher than the flu.

And, 13 percent of cases were likely caused by people spreading the virus before their symptoms arose. Thus, people who are not isolating themselves may be inadvertently spreading the virus without knowing they are infected. 

At a company meeting, three employees who showed no signs of illness were found to have seeded a COVID-19 outbreak that amounted to 72 people. These statistics only continue to justify the school’s decision of temporary closure until April 13. 

And the main takeaway is the battle is just beginning in the United States.

All this information may evoke fear or hysteria among students. But, a pandemic this severe has not been witnessed by students yet and responding with humor is seeming to act as a constructive way to bring them together. While people try to isolate themselves for the safety of others, they may use humor to stay positive in an otherwise gloomy situation. But this poses a slight issue.

In a time like this, the line between light humor and insensitive remarks is very thin and students need to be aware of the impact of their words. If this does not stop now, students will have lives on their hands. 

Recently, as they are returning from vacation, some students are captioning instagram posts with inconsiderate words or jokes relating to the situation. They are poking fun and using a disrespectful tone that in turn diminishes the severity of the virus and those affected.

Examples such as “Really hoping she gets quarantined here,” “Coronavirus? Here for a good time not a long time” and “Me minding my own business while Coronavirus is ruining the world” are all playing off the severity of the virus as a joke. And these are just a few of the many.  

Senior Marali Sanchez is disgusted by the behavior of students on Instagram. “It’s so important for people our age to understand that while COVID-19 might not be as deadly for us, acting like it’s not a big deal, making a joke out of it on social media, and continuing to selfishly ignore health recommendations is literally killing people.”

As Sanchez said, many students are not taking the virus seriously because the death rate for those who are healthy is extremely low. However, those who have underlying health conditions are relying on the precautions of themselves and those around them to save their life. And unfortunately, the lack of respect some students have shown through social media towards those affected by the virus is worrisome.

Recent instagram captions has senior Sara Hoskins worried for her family’s health. “It’s frustrating seeing people joke about the virus and think they don’t need to partake in the precautions because they aren’t part of the high risk groups.” She continues, “I know this virus probably won’t be an issue for most families, but it’s families like mine that are relying on others to take precautions.” 

Participating in isolation is for everyone, not just the immunocompromised. In fact, 25 percent of transmissions of coronavirus may have occurred in presymptomatic stages (meaning it may be spread by people who don’t yet know they have the virus). This means everyone, including the healthy, needs to self-quarantine and stay respectful to those who are greatly affected by the virus. 

In a time like this, it is beneficial to stay positive. However, making insensitive jokes is disrespectful and a line that should not be crossed.