Navigating Coronavirus with Social Media Tools

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In a May 26, 2020 article in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), the most widely circulated medical journal in the world, Dr. Raina M. Merchant and Dr. Nicole Lurie discuss “social media as a critical tool in managing the current evolving pandemic as well as transforming aspects of preparedness and response for the future.” Syndesy is that social media tool we are all looking for to stay responsible and autonomous.

Pandemics and other large-scale disasters.


The dialectic of the welfare of the individual versus the welfare of the community always comes into focus in times of large-scale public disaster. How do we help ourselves versus how do we help our neighbors? Do we wear a mask in public to protect ourselves? Well, yes, sort of. The individual’s wearing of the mask protects others more than it protects the mask-wearer, and could be perceived as an act of charity. But it is not. The act of wearing a mask sets a precedent that encourages others to wear a mask and the more people who wear a mask, the less risk to the individual. If only one person wears a mask, the containment results of mask-wearing are unachievable. But if my wearing a mask encourages you to wear a mask then I am closer to achieving what benefits me, which is containment. Conversely, if I do not wear a mask, I am setting an example of defiance of the public good, so not only am I actively thwarting containment, but I am demonstrating, in my noncooperation, the futility of attempting to achieve containment and further frustrating the cooperative effort of the public. So, while it might be hard to parse the ethics and self-interest of the individual and the community, it is irrelevant as long as the end result finds the majority walking the road to health and well-being. And where social media can help propel us down that road, it is an asset.


Social Media in Times of Crisis

Indeed, social media can play a critical role in the amelioration of the public handling of a pandemic and the paving of that proverbial road to well-being. Vital and efficient, it enables the broad and rather immediate circulation of critical warnings and advisories. Today, whole cities of people can be simultaneously alerted to such crisis interventions as a stay-at-home order or a testing and diagnosis opportunity. And even when isolated, social media can keep us connected to individuals, developing news, and the augmentation or relaxing of societal restrictions. Zoom and similar online assembly platforms not only offer virtual gathering, but they offer the nation’s children a way to continue their education during quarantine. Pervasive access to modern communications technology leads to a public that is better informed and more able to dynamically adapt to evolving crisis.


The Bigger Picture

Of course we must acknowledge the social media landscape that invites bad actors, those ineluctable purveyors of internet misinformation seeking to foment panic or inflict harm. They are a reality of our times as is what the WHO calls the “infodemic,” the endless flood of information, both correct and completely off-base, that pours out of the internet. In the history of civilization, the axiom “consider the source” has never carried more urgency. And yet, the sources of information blasted across the internet are themselves often elusive or misleading. Nevertheless, those are the polluted waters in which we swim, and swim we must. And so the discussion about social welfare in the time of Covid19 must address technological systems, apps, and SAAS solutions that provide agency to the User.

Syndesy is a Solution

To that end, there is a new app called Syndesy that offers solutions for the individual, the community and the organization. It puts the User in the driver’s seat. Syndesy enables the User to track their comings and goings with a simple press of the button. The User chooses to use Syndesy to be responsible to their community; the Syndesy User who falls ill then has the wherewithal to share a report of where they have been so that others who might have been in contact with the User can take proper precautions—get tested, quarantine, warn others. Using Syndesy is a choice, just as wearing a mask is a choice, but both are responsible choices to act for the good of the community. And in helping others, we help ourselves.


Syndesy Solutions for the Workplace and College Campus

Originally offered as an app optimized for the individual User to keep track of their locations in real time, generate reports in the event of infection, and thus voluntarily and responsibly contribute to the containment efforts of their community, Syndesy is soon to offer another version optimized for the workplace and other similarly circumscribed communities such as the college campus. In this alternative incarnation, wherein an entire community subscribes to the app, that community will have collective agency over its own welfare. A report of who might have been exposed to any infected User can easily be shared and relied on to identify who might have been in contact with the exposed. And if the Syndesy community is tracking these exposures, it can work more responsibly and surgically to achieve containment. And so, as we move toward a re-opening of society and of the workplace, Syndesy is a tool with important applications.

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