Since self-isolating from Pi Day, I’ve been playing Ace Attorney- the game franchise where the meme came from. Jokes aside, discovering truths in the game doesn’t seem far from the truth from our role as scientists in real life. During this sensitive period, so many hoaxes, memes, conflicting articles and misinformation have been going around, leading to confusion, panic, ignorance and misguided practices. This is why analysing the TRUTH is important, unless you want to get sent the meme.
Imperial has been at the forefront of COVID-19 research, from urging the government to act to facilitating antibody research against COVID-19. As an interdisciplinary effort, we have found that preventative measures such as social distancing were employed could significantly avoid death rates, and this has been modelled to be the case following the original study. In addition, Imperial researchers have been collaborating with other universities both in the UK and abroad to speed up vaccine development and research on other potential treatments for the disease.
Despite the combined major efforts made by the Imperial College community, individuals such as us also have a part in taking care of ourselves and others physically. A huge part of informing the public about the pandemic this time is through social media. Whilst social media handles such as Twitter and Facebook allow incredibly prompt spread of information about global disasters including pandemics, they also provide a means for internet trolls and anti-vaxxers to take pleasure in spreading their ideals and poking fun at serious issues. This is why it is important for us to know how to differentiate between what is trustworthy information and pick which sources we want to inform our loved ones about.
I admit I had also previously succumbed to misinformation by social media. Whilst it was true at first the virus was targeting people of old age, it is by no means simply a ‘boomer remover’. It is all too easy to point fingers at certain groups when we are all under stress but that makes it all so important to point out what is correct and what is wrong. Imperial has interviewed science communicator Adam Rutherford on how to combat racism. There are also information pages on COVID-19 research updates and online course.
Of course, our mental health is equally important. Our departmental representatives have organised Humans of Biochem, an initiative akin to Facebook-famous Humans of New York. For those of us that don’t use Facebook, Humans of New York interviews people around the world about their worldview and experiences. Hearing about fellow course mates’ experiences has been enlightening to realise that our different experiences doesn’t make us better than one another, but rather we add different colours and contribute to the world in different ways. The universe makes us and we make the universe.
Remember to keep in touch with friends (I like using Discord) and stay safe!