What social media tells us about the fear, anxiety and hope of the coronavirus
Five million people have just announced on Twitter that they are sheltering in their homes. That’s an amazing number, mainly because it’s a small representation of the population following orders. The hope is that every tweet from someone who even bother to mention it, who has a Twitter account, and is active on social media could be several hundred more.
If you’re like me you’ve decided to stay home even if your state has not yet made it compulsory. You avoid contact with people and when you go for a walk you keep your distance – at least six feet or more. And you don’t accumulate as much food as keeping only what you need for a few weeks so your family can eat normally.
Recently one of my favorite social media aggregators called Push Social announced some interesting findings about fear and anxiety related to the pandemic on social media. You could say that’s all everyone is talking about, and it’s largely true. However, there are quite a few statistics that surprised me and some gave me some hope in the dark.
First of all, there have been 197 million tweets about the virus in the past 10 days – far more than any other topic. 9% of all conversations (or 17.6 million tweets) are about our healthcare system, what hospitals need to do, and the status of medical staff. It gives me some hope that people are trying to remedy the situation – giving them the care they need, figuring out how to help nurses and doctors stay safe, and treatment.
The second most common topic of conversation is about flattening the curve. That’s the main focus right now as we all crouch down. I read that if everyone in the world stayed home for two weeks we would eradicate this pandemic completely. Ended. It will be extremely difficult, but what gives me hope is that (unlike a world war or disease that cannot be stopped by any means) there is a way to prevent the spread in society. . This is to avoid any contact.
Social data from Sprout suggests that the economy is becoming a trending topic, which I find boring. Sorry that people who die are causing a drop in stocks for you. So sad. As of Thursday, people associating the virus with an economic crisis rose. Highligths.
The analysis of feelings is essential here. The day can tell us how people feel about a wide variety of topics and also how that feeling changes over time. It helps us see what the masses think about working from home, isolation, and future possibilities.
As for the sentiment behind the tweets, 41% of posts about the spread of the virus were negative, 31% were neutral and only 28% were positive. It’s relatively similar for conversations about K-12 education online, with 46% negative, 27% neutral, and 27% positive tweets.
One topic with more positive tweets (barely, but still) was updates on hospitals, ventilators, masks, and testing. Data shows 36% of users had positive things to say while 29% remained neutral and 35% said negative things.
What does all of this really mean? More than just the fact that people have opinions. With this data, experts can adjust their message – they can understand the need for social distancing if they see so many people caring. They can step up their efforts to give people tools on homeschooling. They can even address negativity.
Hope the CDC and others are listening. The masses have spoken.