Almost over a year ago, when the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, little did we know that the virus would bring about such drastic changes in the lives of people. From the most advanced cities to the remotest of villages, none would be spared. In the new world of lockdowns and quarantine, one of the most important gateways was undoubtedly the support of social media. Whether it was the long Whatsapp video calls with family or posting reels on Instagram of the latest viral trend to exhibiting newly acquired talents (read dalgona coffee) on Facebook, social media was that one door of escape from the fear of uncertainty that had clouded us with the spread of the pandemic. 

Towards the beginning of this year, all seemed to be well in India. Weddings were again witnessing large crowds and elaborate buffets, tourism was picking up again as people were heading out for their much needed vacations, schools and colleges were hopeful for students to be back in classrooms. Above all political rallies and religious gatherings had resumed in full swing as a new notorious strain of the virus was swiftly spreading across the masses, bringing the healthcare infrastructure of the country to it’s knees.

The second wave of COVID-19 has hit India hard, overwhelming hospitals, mortuaries, ambulances and even crematoriums. Fighting to breathe, thousands of people are succumbing to this disease everyday while struggling to get immediate medical attention. As India is grappling through one of the most unprecedented and darkest times of the pandemic, social media is one tool that has become a mighty medium for coordination, crowd funding, volunteering and most importantly amplifying urgent life-saving information.

While one is still flooded with random and unverified Covid information in WhatsApp forwards, especially in family groups, many influencers with millions of followers on Instagram started the practice of sharing useful verified information. From the availability of hospital beds, plasma donors, medicines, oxygen cylinders, home cooked meals to even ways to deal with mental health, they are actually saving lives through their stories and posts. The common masses jumped on the bandwagon of following this life saving ‘trend’ and in turn are helping millions of others. People have come together in solidarity from across the world to raise funds to support the ones affected by Covid-19 by helping NGOs procure oxygen concentrators, food, oxygen cylinders and other relief materials. 

Many users have adopted Instagram’s new feature of creating ‘Guides’ to collate and share information on COVID-19 such as health precautions, city/ state wise COVID hospitals, food, plasma and oxygen availability. Through social media, stories of young frontline workers, volunteers, the bereaved, the survivors and the fighters are coming forward as lessons of strength and spirit. It is heartening to see that the platforms that were created to amplify one’s virtual presence are actually aiding in saving lives and acting as a common thread to unite Indians to fight the biggest test of their faith, patience and perseverance.

Every Indian is doing their best to help India heal. Social media as a tool for social good is reaping results in a faster and effective manner. Every person’s effort, no matter how small is playing a significant role in saving a stranger’s life. In the times of the crushing pandemic, the role of social media has mutated into an instrument for social good and this is one lesson that will probably be our biggest testimony of hope, resilience and courage that will never fade away.