Facebook in the COVID-19 world

With many forced to stay at home, Facebook and various social media platforms have been the go-to pastime, hobby, or activity. Facebook, in particular, has become a hub where one can obtain news and information, catch up with family, friends and loved ones, and buy and sell goods and services among others.

COVID-19 has prompted a change in the way countries, organizations and institutions operate today. Governments in many countries have been forced to implement lockdowns to contain the transmission of COVID-19. Companies have been forced to implement alternative working arrangements through work-from-home schemes. There has been a dramatic shift in trade and commerce from operating physical stores to digital online shopping platforms.

With many forced to stay at home, Facebook and various social media platforms have been the go-to pastime, hobby, or activity. Facebook, in particular, has become a hub where one can obtain news and information, catch up with family, friends and loved ones, and buy and sell goods and services among others.

It is no surprise that Facebook activity, particularly here in the Philippines, has sharply increased. During the pre-pandemic times, a typical Filipino averages about 4 hours in a day browsing through Facebook. It should be times two or three today in the absence of productive preoccupation and social events/gatherings.

Due to the number of Filipinos using Facebook for various reasons today, the Philippine Facebook landscape has dramatically changed during this pandemic. It can be characterized either as "good" or "toxic."

The Good

Facebook has been used to mobilize communities of support for noble causes and advocacies, particularly in COVID19 life-saving efforts. Anonymous individuals and organizations have extended financial assistance either through formal or informal channels to show their support for our less privileged Kababayans.

Facebook has also become a platform for concerned individuals and groups to legitimately air their grievances and pleas to government, particularly on policies that are seen to be more detrimental than beneficial to the greater majority. As a result, it has become a sounding board for the success or failure of government-implemented programs when it comes to COVID-19. 

The Bad

Unfortunately, Facebook has also been polluted with so much political negativity. The senseless political bickering between the DDS and Dilawans overshadow critical issues which deserve more importance. Instead of fostering unity among Filipinos, the unnecessary exchanges pervert innocent minds on the importance of effective and responsible practice of politics in a crisis such as this pandemic.

Facebook has also become an obituary where deaths of family, friends and loved ones are made known publicly. It has become agonizing to see news feeds flooded by frequent changes in profile pictures to black, which is seen as a sign that a friend/acquaintance has lost his/her loved one recently.

Facebook is not just a marketplace of thoughts, ideas, goods, and services. It is also a reflection of the kind of society that exists today. As we journey along during these pandemic times, the use of Facebook and social media platforms will continuously evolve.

Ultimately, it is up to us whether we can put Facebook to good use or not. Otherwise, leaving or deactivating may be the best option for our sanity.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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