The golden advice we always get is that “communication is key.”
However, in light of coronavirus (COVID19), communication has become an uncomfortable subject for me.
The virus has put me on the front lines of an emergency communications experience that has made me reflect on how we communicate and that life is unpredictable.
First let’s deal with how this has made me feel and how I see others adapting.
Instead of embracing relationships, society has been advised to stay away and practice social distancing. I believe there is a dark cloud, looming above our heads, as the word “virus” continues to spill from the lips of millions.
“Adjusting” is not a word that can describe the way that people are reacting to this chaos. It’s not the word I would use to describe the way the last couple of days have been for me. With a 20th birthday approaching, my best friend’s wedding on the brink of cancelation, and the isolation from my friends and family, I’d say I’ve had my fair share of disappointments lately.
I am trying to stay as positive as possible, even though it has been hard. I know I’m not alone and knowing that many students, parents, and people in our campus community are feeling the same way, makes me feel less alone in this world of mandatory isolation.
You would think that not being on campus would help us relax a little more but I’m 99 percent sure relaxation has turned into boredom and restlessness. It’s hard to believe that I’m living though something that will be written in history books for our children, and theirs, and so on.
It’s hard to think of the future, though, when so much is happening in the present. I believe that people are anxious, and you can see it in every aspect of life, especially on social media. Tick Tock has been everyone’s best friend, COVID-19 has been trending on Twitter this entire week, and travel Instagram influencers are in a state of panic. Social media, which used to be a place to escape, has now become everyone’s favorite place to complain about social distancing and self-quarantine.
Last week was pretty tough for all of us on our social media team. The messages left on our posts felt like personal attacks. Some of them were funny, and some of them kept me awake at night. However, I think I learned a lot about staying calm in intense situations. When I got to school the morning after President Fram Verjee’s first email, I decided not to read it and I let social media give me the spark notes.
What I learned made me feel entirely uneasy. I read at least 10 posts that claimed the letter said that CSUF was not going to cancel classes until there were five confirmed cases on campus. However, later I learned that this information was completely false! That situation reminded me that if I want the correct information, I need to go looking for it myself and not let other people’s talk become fact without proof.
I also learned the importance of answering a question. Having an FAQ document that our team in Strategic Communications created was a great idea and the perfect solution to the hundreds of questions posted on our social platforms. Leaving people with unanswered questions would be the worst thing to do in this situation, and I am glad that I learned this valuable lesson early on in my career.
I guess if I was going to go through this situation again, the only question I would have is; How do you put “I was in a social media crisis, and I survived it with minimal bruises” on your LinkedIn profile?
Now I want to work on handling sensitive subjects, such as COVID-19, and learn more about how to approach it correctly and safely on social media.
Mirabella Isais is a student assistant for the university’s social media team. She is a sophomore and is studying communications and public relations. Follow her on Instagram at Mirabella.Isais