Covid-19 changed the world. Some of its impact was all too visible, but other effects are harder to see, but have profound consequences nonetheless.
The pandemic’s influence went beyond our physical wellbeing. It touched the economy, health, politics and international relations, all of which fed through to how it impacted our mental health, not least through the way it redefined social relations.
With restrictions on human movement and contact commonplace around the world, a new social environment emerged in the digital space, promising to provide access to vital information and offering the ability to search for, or share, solutions.
But this digital space also made us feel powerless in the face of the massive flow of content led by algorithms, like a storm we cannot control.
And social media platforms feed off important events such as social or political changes, or global economic or political crises like the war in Ukraine or the latest developments in Sudan, which can stoke anxiety.
An archipelago of information – and argument
Apps, sites and platforms mix all this together with other more superficial elements, like consumer products or entertaining clips, to create and spread their own content. It creates what feels like a large archipelago of information in which it is very easy to get lost.
Virtual spaces become arenas for arguments, as statements and counter-statements turn into endless rows as each party tries to prove their point.
The digital space can easily lose its civility, and worse. As contributors fall out with each other, matters can escalate into rudeness and abuse, partisanship and often racism.