What Can a Communication Student Do in a Time of Crisis?
By Roland Reyes
With an ongoing pandemic forcing communication students indoors, we are left at home with two options: to create, or to procrastinate. I myself face this dilemma on a daily basis. If only I could just lay on my bed and listen to some lo-fi hip-hop and chill all day, far from the troubles of the outside world, I might just do it. However tempting that humdrum may sound, my innate Development Communicator just couldn’t bear it. I’m sure you can't, too.
How can we remain at peace when all the while other countries are celebrating their victory against COVID-19, while our government has been busy doing other things? The energy that's supposed to be exerted for the marginalized Filipinos, for a safer educational plan, and for the welfare of our frontliners has been spent on student red-tagging, jailing activists, passing laws contrary to the ideals of the constitution, and, recently, the shutting down of a national heritage of news and current affairs. Have we achieved flattening the curve? Unfortunately, at more than 57,000 confirmed cases, we have not.
Each day, we are left with time in our hands, social media anxiety in our psyche, and the urge to speak out against these injustices. We can only wonder, what can we do to help alleviate the current circumstances even from the comforts of our homes? The answer is simple, we can do what we do best: inform the general public.
Here are some of the best practices you can do to unleash your inner communicator and help the masses with our art and message while on lockdown:
1. Inform yourself.
Justine Musk once said, “Reading is the inhale. Writing is the exhale.” We can only be efficient communicators if we are informed ourselves. We can achieve this by staying in-tune with current affairs and press conferences. Explainers offered by news sites are an excellent source of information too.
After verifying if the information online is indeed factual, we could draft our own arguments and realizations for our future conversations. Information is the foundation of our communication studies, after all.
2. Learn new ways to share your message.
During the past few months, I managed to learn the basics of Photoshop. With this tool, I can now easily convey my message using personally-designed pubmats which I can share on my social media accounts. This is evidence of the fact that you can never go wrong in developing new skills, especially if it helps you share your message.
You can try digital art, graphic design, or poetry writing – whatever floats your boat. Summon your inner artist, and, soon, you will be a breath of fresh air in your friends' timelines.
3. Write stuff worth reading.
Now that we are equipped with factual information and thoughts of sustainable solutions, we can now try the hardest part in writing – starting with a message. It’s not a requirement to write lengthy articles on a daily basis. If we start treating communication like an overdue seatwork, we might just lose interest in it.
Think of Kakie Pangilinan and her witty one-liners. With information that provokes, she started a nationwide discussion on harassment with the #HijaAko movement. Putting out words that need to be said might just be the key in stimulating fruitful conversations.
During these dark times, we might be the only glimmer of hope that our peers can see. We may have our own share of pandemic problems, but if we manage to share thought-provoking pieces of inspiration in our own online spaces, it can really work both ways and get us through the day.
The beauty of it lies in inspiring our friends to join in the movement in upholding basic human rights and proper approaches especially in this pandemic. Greta Thunberg started with a group of friends fighting for a cause and went all the way to sparking a global movement of awareness. Who says you can’t do that, too?
Now that we are entering an era of suppressing the freedom of speech and of the press, it is high time that we, communication students, join the fight in defending our democratic rights. Starting in our online spaces, university forums, and pages, we can participate in the much-needed nation building and mass work for the betterment of our country.
Sure, it can be daunting – scary, even. But, believe me, we have media practitioners, journalists, and the masses by our side. Corruption fears the informed public. By taking part in these proactive measures of fact-checking and information sharing, we are helping the public in making informed decisions – one write-up, tweet, or post at a time.