- By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Stranger than fiction
The truth, according to author Mitch Albom, is at the bottom of the pile, the first victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Indeed. The truth tries to fence itself against assaults as it struggles to find a safe refuge.
In these increasingly bizarre times, people have different versions of truth glutting the social media and every space on the web, where everyone participates in what seems like a contest of information. Some truths are untold, while others are distorted to fit one’s purpose. Even rumors, speculations and conspiracy theories masquerade as truth.
“The opening blow came from the Chinese government, who clearly lied about what they were seeing when the virus hit. That cover-up cost the world precious time, and knocked over the first domino,” Albom writes.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, people have been perplexed, unsure of what to believe and whom to trust. The social network has become a factory of all sorts of information, operating at full speed.
Guam is part of this game. During the early part of the pandemic, unconfirmed information so abounded on social media that it became part of the Office of Press Secretary’s job to issue “false alerts.”
At the political level, no cord of trust exists between the leaders and the people. It has been always that way pretty much. But the coronavirus pandemic has taken public distrust to epic proportions. Doubts and resistance have become the default public response to government announcements and actions.
Even the Center for Disease and Control and Prevention has become the boy who cried wolf given its inconsistent guidance. You have to wear a face mask. You don’t need to wear a face mask.
Most recently, CDC issued a new guidance stating it was not necessary to test people with no symptoms of Covid-19. It counters its own previous recommendation to test all people who have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with the coronavirus. Scientists have advised CDC against its new guidance. Clashing opinions among medical authorities we thought we should believe only heightened our confusion.
Even the media’s credibility is becoming a casualty of this chaos.
During these uncertain times, newsrooms have prioritized pandemic coverage while we race for information against the social media. But the fast-changing and sometimes raw Covid-19 data leaves journalists with challenges in providing updated and accurate information to the public. This is clearly an uncharted territory.
Uncertainties often leave the public wondering — or debating — why certain public health measures are or are not being taken. On the home front, we have seen how the lockdown policy polarizes the community in a seemingly ideological fashion.
The Guam economy is again slowly reopening. However, we are not really sure where we are now in the pandemic stage. We thought we were out of the woods when Guam moved to PCOR3 in May. But obviously, even the coronavirus’ temper is unpredictable. Its resurgence has been more ruthless. Covid casualties are still mounting and huge numbers of positive cases are still coming.
We are still grappling with information, and anyone who claims they know what is likely to happen next in the coming years is lying.
By early next year, Covid-19 may be a dwindling memory of a nightmare. Or it may still be part of our reality.
At this juncture, the only truth we are sure of is that the life that we used to know will be history.