By Angela Ramirez
During the second semester of my first year of college, I was sitting in my pop-culture communications class, laughing at Covid-19 social media memes that my professor was showing, collectively blowing the whole thing off. Unbeknownst to us, our entire lives and college careers would change in weeks. And everything we learned about media thus far, was only the beginning.
Fast forward two years when I’m freshly graduated from college, very antisocial due to pandemic isolation, and fairly in tune with the state of media today. While in college, media literacy was one of my greatest areas of learning, and I had to actively keep up with the state of the world via news and social media. However, these days, I’ve noticed that I am without student bias and things have changed rapidly in the “real world” due to the pandemic. Reliable communication teaches us to quickly and effectively respond to the constantly changing world around us, with the power to inform the public of any situation at hand.
Here are three key takeaways I learned from the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Press Releases are valuable
When things started going south, the public was naturally in disbelief. In fact, people weren’t sure what to believe until the chief medical advisor made a presidential statement of emergency to shut down most aspects of daily life in the U.S. in March 2020. Once national panic started, businesses were quick to drop press releases covering any information they had regarding new Covid regulations or operations. Businesses who were slow to respond to the concerns of their stakeholders, didn’t do well after weeks of being shut down. The public needed press releases – i.e., clear, updated information – almost as much as they needed Lysol spray. I have never personally seen such a massive media response in my lifetime. Communications came not only from big corporations, but from entertainment personalities, government officials and small-town shops. The currency of press releases from the lockdown phase of the pandemic was truly a sight to behold as a communications major.
- Miscommunication costs lives
The U.S. government seemed to do the best it could at the beginning of the pandemic, however, slipped up with miscommunications many times. From mask mandates to the “hoax” spread in the media, many people continued to disregard the safety of others during these times. This, consequently, cost hundreds of thousands of lives across the country. What my class studied through this crisis communication reflected an emphasis of urgency that had been lacking since the start. Miscommunication can be extremely dangerous, and I for one, will always remember what the media and government tried and failed to accomplish during this time.
- The massive influence the Internet has on a global scale
Despite society and media attempts to “move on” from the pandemic, the effects are still present and relevant two years later. In 2022, studies show an average of global Internet users are spending seven hours each day online, with predictions of 12 trillion hours to be spent this year. The 2022 Global Overview Report states that the digital world is growing immensely, and even if the pandemic disappears completely, it wouldn’t change the way people cling to the Internet as a lifeline.
It was thought to be impossible to have a world completely digital until people were forced to work remotely and attend school online. Now, although people crave in-person connection, they are still tethered to the Internet. And we, as communicators, must adapt fully before the dependence of the Internet sweeps accurate communication under the rug.
It seems like the past couple of years have flown by and the screens in our hand flash faster than we can think. The pandemic taught me that I do not know the foreseeable future, but that is not something that should trouble me or anyone, because life continues no matter what. As a graduate, I have to consistently stay positive and goal-oriented, keeping the lessons I have learned throughout the years, both in academia and the real world, close to my heart. My hope for the communication field, as I enter it, is to keep the momentum going and spread as much helpful, accurate information as possible to the audience I serve.