Raul Rebane phrases four rules on Vikerraadio's daily comment for handling increased information flow during the crisis period and not losing one's mind.
It is typical of crisis time to see the amount of available information grow exponentially, decisions need to be made hurriedly, which means the likelihood of making mistakes also grows. How to navigate this sea of information without losing the plot? I made for myself four simple rules I dare recommend to everyone.
Firstly. Question, verify and do not trust!
More than during good times. Questioning things is normal and we do it all the time. Every text is not news, just like every red berry is not a strawberry. If you hear from somewhere that the best remedy for the coronavirus is birch water mixed with vinegar, you should question it because blindly trusting it could be life-threatening. For example, for nearly two months now, we've been treated to utter nonsense suggesting the flu kills more people and is worse than COVID-19. Many who believed it are sorry today.
Secondly. Call a friend!
That is good advice for several reasons. First of all, because human communication is good for you during a crisis, a problem shared is a problem halved. Civil society works through talking and being there for each other. Another advantage of this tactic is that somewhere down the line there is a wise person telling you not to believe all kinds of nonsense. Your call might help your friend and their call may help you.
There are other advantages. Rather unexpectedly, there are still people among us who haven't realized just how dangerous this accursed virus is. Finding and removing people like that from the street is not just the state's task. We must all pitch in and direct contact is the most effective way. They are somewhere next to you. Find them, call them and convince them!
Thirdly. Find different sources!
Look in several places. That will allow you to shape your opinion more successfully as having several sources simply increases the likelihood of hitting the truth. Especially useful is the opportunity to keep an eye on information from several countries.
Journalists can help us make choices and sift through information, but feel free to get it on the side if you are interested enough. I have trustworthy sources from several countries in the form of old contacts with whom I stay in touch every day. And many things do look different.
Fourthly. Trust the trustworthy!
Allow me to linger a little on this topic. During crises, people would do well to postpone treating as their first stop for information political, religious and interest groups. While a political party's website might be close to your heart, it could be quite harmful for your health.
On Thursday last, Ilmar Raag was asked live on Russian Radio 4 whether Estonia should swallow its pride and ask for help from Russia because it has managed the coronavirus brilliantly. This serves as an excellent example of what propaganda does to people and what they might come to believe.
Anyone who takes even a semi-serious look at the coronavirus situation in Russia can see that the country is facing major, possibly colossal problems because actual measures clearly came too late. It is all the more peculiar that stories started appearing on Estonian media last Friday on how PBK news disappearing came at the wrong time and that Estonia's Russian-speaking population is cut off from information.
That is too much. Estonia is an independent country and must be able to provide its own information without having to ask for help from Moscow. The audience of both Radio 4 and ETV+ is growing rapidly because people cannot live with the crisis here but the information coming from Moscow. Luckily, most Russian-speaking people realize as much
A recent study by pollster Kantar Emor puts the trustworthiness of ETV+ at 37 percent, while that of RTR is rated at 17 percent and that of PBK at 15 percent. What would we procure from PBK in that case? Let us recall that ETV+ was created with situations like this one in mind and think about how bad we would have it if it the channel did not exist.
Let us all agree that the shameful period during which an independent country bought airtime from another country's hostile networks to keep its citizens informed is over for good. Period. A sharp message also for those who would like to restore PBK news.
Everyone can have their own menu in terms of what they believe and which networks they follow. ERR is obviously the most and social media the least credible source in the crisis. It is only natural as crisis management is not entertainment. Therefore, once again:
- Question, verify!
- Call a friend!
- Find different sources!
- Trust the trustworthy!
This way we can perform our main duty – to be good citizens because only together can we beat this crisis. According to German writer Günter Grass, a citizen's main task is to "keep their mouth open." Some countries are fighting the crisis by keeping their citizens silent, while that is fortunately not possible here. Yet. So, call a friend!
Editor: Marcus Turovski