There is an old quote that says, “Let whoever, think whatever.” This is a quote I try and live my life by. I don’t normally get bent out of shape just because someone on the internet says something wrong, but this school of thought does not suffice during a pandemic.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has given birth to some of the most ludicrous conspiracy theories known to man. In the interest of not spreading false information, I will not share all of them here. One of the more popular ones revolves around 5G…yes, the cellular network. The theory posits that coronavirus isn’t to blame for the illness that is going around and that the effects that we attribute to coronavirus are really a symptom of 5G. This is a theory pushed by popular conspiracy bloggers and supported by an army of bots.
Of course, this theory is categorically false. 5G frequencies are no more harmful than any other electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light. It is certainly not capable of causing respiratory problems and even if it was why would it be communicable from person to person? Furthermore, most areas afflicted with COVID-19 don’t even have 5G coverage.
This theory has no scientific basis and is quite easy to debunk, but it’s out there because people who know better let it stay out there.
This is where teachers come in. Sometimes we forget the role we play in society. We are educators. Many of us still have contact with our students and their families. That’s in addition to our own extended network of friends and families.
These theories are going to get people killed. Don’t be afraid to engage people when you see them spreading or acting upon misinformation. After all, these “theories” aren’t based in reality, so it’s not like you are going to “lose” the argument.
Following the controversial election of 2016, there was a big push against “fake news.” Social media sites, news outlets, and bloggers spearheaded that push, but teachers were a big part of that. Fake political news is bad enough, but fake health news is substantially worse. So once again, teachers need to put their gloves on and combat misinformation. Because the penalty for thinking COVID-19 is caused by a cell tower as opposed to human interaction isn’t just going to cost someone an election…it could cost someone his or her life.