TIRUCHY: Social media is playing a key role in the fight against COVID 19. Right from helping people beat boredom and lifting the spirits of those placed under quarantine, it has been a powerful weapon in the hands of doctors and police working on the frontlines fighting the deadly virus. Not surprisingly, there has been a sharp increase in the consumption of social media. As per a report released by Hammerkopf Consumer Survey, social media usage jumped to 87 per cent in the first week of the lockdown period. As per the survey, there has been an increase of 2 hours of usage per day. Before lockdown, the time an individual spent on social media was 2.5 hours. It has since gone up to 4.6 hours per day.
Though the medical fraternity is on its toes attending to COVID-19 patients, it has not ignored patients down with other ailments. Through teleconsultation services, several hospitals offer consultation and prescriptions. Follow-ups of patients' medical conditions are done through calls and messages. Even counselling for people with mental problems is being offered.
While doctors took care of people's health, police ensured their safety. "WhatsApp played a major role in coordinating volunteers across the city to help monitor social distancing in many places. Also, 19 WhatsApp groups were formed in Tiruchy Range, with DSPs as group administrators, to monitor complaints and responses from front-line workers such as medical, paramedical and sanitation workers," said Tiruchy Range DIG V Balakrishnan. Besides, through the Reach me'
app, police catered to the needs of around 1,852 elderly citizens. To ensure the safety of workers, it also launched an 'e-beat' system, which enabled them to find real-time locations and reach out for help. Interestingly, a police sub-inspector in Jayankondam in Ariyalur had created a WhatsApp group called 'Corona Fighters' to help people fight boredom. With 99 members in the group as on the first week of May, he started posting news and motivational videos, besides making friendly visits to their homes.
For politicians and spiritual gurus, YouYube and Facebook have been indispensable spaces of discourse. Many of them are using online platforms to interact with their supporters and followers. Discourses and discussions were live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook as well as through the Zoom application.
Not just individuals, institutions too used the net to reach out to the faithful. Churches and temples live-streamed mass and poojas. "Every Sunday, we post videos of our church service on YouTube. In the initial days, not many people watched it. But gradually. the subscribers increased to 1,600," said Bishop of Tiruchy-Tanjore Diocese, D. Chandrasekaran, noting that even in rural areas, preachers took to social media and widened reach. "Besides, Whatsapp and Facebook have been very useful in identifying people with needs at the ground level and in distributing essentials to them," he added.
This apart, the internet helped techies and students a lot. "Online classes cannot replace traditional classroom teaching. But for the time being, they are
helpful in engaging students," said Sujitha, who teaches Mathematics to Class 10 students through the Zoom application. Noushath, an Architecture student of a private college in Tiruchy, said, "Tests are taken up online on the ClassMarker app and Google Forms are very useful. Our professors send us study materials through WhatsApp. Besides, they also hold reviews of our project through the GoToMeeting and Zoom application.