The Big Online Covid Debate

When social media was first conceived even those ultra geeks in Silicon Valley could never have envisioned where it would all lead to.

Facebook was an online profile where you could tell everyone how happy you felt and what you were doing yet in 2020 it has become the biggest divisive tool known to mankind. It’s been used to spread hate, swing elections and now it’s the vehicle for the Big Online Covid Debate.

The virus and its consequences have taken over our lives so it’s only natural that everybody has an opinion but many are passing on 2nd hand polarising information as verbatim and courting opposing views so online arguments are commonplace. It’s been an interesting window into the human psyche – armchair scientists against doom mongers against positive thinkers against conspiracy theorists against anti-vaxers versus the world.

The political and scientific landscape is changing all the time and reactionary governments are running scared and with no clear contingency plans in place they appear to have little or no clue as to what will happen next. The fear of not knowing resonates downwards to a population unwilling or too lazy to ask pertinent questions driving divisions via social media.

It feels to me like we are back in the 80’s when world governments told us that we were all going to die of ‘AIDS’ if we didn’t fundamentally change the way we lived. ‘Don’t die of ignorance’ was the tagline. Oh the irony. This virus is very different to what is now known as HIV but there is a precedent for getting it totally wrong when there’s no clear understanding of what you are dealing with.

Like many, Ibiza’s own journey with Covid has been a rollercoaster. Numbers were relatively very low until a few weeks ago when widespread PCR testing started revealing that many were carrying the virus showing little or no symptoms. The island now has over 500 ‘active cases’ but hospital admissions in relation are very low. Over 95% of all new cases have been classed as ‘low’ or asymptomatic so only home isolation is neccessary.

The virus is being passed locally by groups of friends and families living and working together. It’s now mainly in younger people (25-50) who are more resistant so cases are going up while deaths go down as the vulnerable continue to shield themselves. Ibiza hasn’t had a death in over 4 months and only 12 since the start of the pandemic- all but 1 were elderly with pre existing medical conditions. This isn’t an outright killer, it’s a horrible virus with consequences but it certainly isn’t Ebola or the bubonic plaque.

What’s interesting for a tourist island is that tourists have been the least of Ibiza’s worries. Less than 15% of all cases have been found to come from this sector but other foreign governments imposing quarantine on Spain because of cases in regions many hundreds of miles away has ended the Ibiza summer early. With harsh new local laws now being introduced many bars and restaurants have closed, some for good. The island will be in full winter mode by mid September. All this for 1 ‘unexplained’ death from Covid?

Social media will carry on driving divisions between us due to strong opinions on an episode that is affecting our lives and livelihoods. Local businesses that have taken years of hard work to build have crumbled under the pressure of something that none of us has any control over and that’s a bitter pill to take.

Until a clear plan is put in place the fear will intensify and it will get worse before it gets better but get better it will. History shows us that this isn’t the first time this has happened but it is the first time that social media has played such an important part, everyone can have their say and however lucid, ludicrous and divisive their comments are there’s always an audience ready and willing to take the opposing view. The online debate rumbles on and on.

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

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