by Xander Morley
Since early 2020, humanity has become engulfed in a world of hand sanitizer, masks, political discourse, and a plethora of other issues. The main difference between this pandemic and just about every other pandemic that society has faced is one thing; the internet.
The last pandemic to have such a chokehold on society was probably that of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. This pandemic lasted 18 months and there were 500 million cases worldwide with 50 million deaths attached to that number. COVID-19 has 373 million cases and 5.66 million deaths worldwide (as of Jan 30, 2022). So, while technically COVID has not dealt as much damage, it is still rampaging throughout the world at a similar rate. While both pandemics happened in the modern world, only COVID happened in the age of the internet. This has become a pivotal part of how society has adapted to this time in history. Because of the internet, there is a constant thread of updates, posts, statistics, debates, and more all over the web pertaining to the pandemic. If anything, it’s impossible to avoid COVID no matter where you look, it’s completely taken over most news networks and social media platforms. Whereas, without the internet, back in 1918, these circumstances would have been very different.
Back then, it was almost guaranteed that there were hundreds of thousands of people who had no idea this flu was spreading like wildfire. There were more than likely many people who got this flu and had no idea what it was. In the modern age, there is so much constantly happening online that it is impossible to miss things that are widely televised and reported on. By 1918, televisions weren’t even a common household item for most people yet. Word of mouth, landline telephones, radios, and newspapers were the biggest forms of communication at the time. They didn’t have any connection to the rest of the world on such a widespread scale, like society does today.
The internet being present has helped kids and young adults in school and college stay actively learning. During the Spanish Flu pandemic, most kids weren’t even allowed out of the house or to go to school because of how bad it was. Many children missed out on 2 pivotal years of learning and it surely affected significant amounts of children. Young adults suffered too but children of young ages missing out on schooling can be much more damaging long term.
With constant updates always being in everyone’s feeds, it can be difficult to differentiate what is fake versus what is real. Even though the internet has helped ease most people through this pandemic, there are definitely some fallbacks. False information, political debates, and general hysteria making their way to the internet can be seen as bad things for good reason. The biggest debate seems to be with the vaccine, masks, and their mandates. Many people want it to be required, many others don’t and it can be hard to decide who to agree with when there’s so much information in everybody’s face all the time. Regardless of personal opinion on these issues, it’s impossible to deny that there is a pandemic going on. Everyone should be staying safe and doing their part to help with anything they can to make this situation become a much smoother sail back into normalcy. Humanity needs to band together to end this thing. Using the internet could be an amazing tool to help find more solutions. Any tool is useful, but the people behind those tools are what make the tools useful.