Coronavirus has officially been declared a pandemic and while the outbreak is certainly cause for concern, the virus seems to be even more viral on the internet. Sensationalized news has been making the rounds on social media, now celebrities are chiming in.
Most recently, Cardi B added her two cents with a panicked Instagram video that voices her worries and reveals that she’s stocking up on food.
“Ya keep playing I’m deadass FUCKIN SCARED. I’m stocking up on food,” Cardi wrote in the caption. In the accompanying video, the Bronx native didn’t hold back. “I don’t understand how this shit was from Wuhan, China, and now all of the sudden this shit is on motherfucking tour. And let me tell y’all something, I ain’t even gonna front. A bitch is scared. I’m a little scared. Shit got me panicking.”
Cardi’s post is one in a million. Our timelines are filled with coronavirus-related headlines, discussions, and even memes, so it’s easy to misunderstand how problematic a celebrity of her caliber adding hysteria to the mix is. With almost 60 million followers, Bardi has a platform that is more powerful than most. Yes, we love it when she endearingly uses it to give us Bronx-tinged speeches about politics or social media haters, but we should call her out when she spreads panic instead of awareness. So, here goes.
While celebs doing their bit to share coronavirus safety advice — and selfies — is commendable, some commentary has proved problematic. R&B artist Summer Walker learned this the hard way. When the 23- year-old singer posted a fake video allegedly showing Chinese people deliberately spreading the virus, she quickly faced backlash for xenophobia. Rightly so.
From misinformed over-sharing to (badly-disguised) calls for relevance, Gwyneth Paltrow thought a pandemic was the right time to remind us of her 2011 film, Contagion. Taking to Instagram, the Goop-founder shared a photo of herself wearing a large black face mask and joked about her role in the thriller about a mystery virus that spreads across the world killing tens of millions of people.
According to the World Health Organization’s first-ever Tik Tok video, Naomi Campbell’s coronavirus travel outfit — featuring a full hazmat suit, gloves, face mask, and goggles — is also not the way to go. With several organizations and medical professionals warning that masks won’t help against the spread of the virus, the supermodel’s fit pic, like Cardi’s video, is just another case of celebrity-driven misinformation.
So how should celebs address the coronavirus in their public lives? While information is definitely welcome, we need to be aware of the difference between accuracy and hysteria. Take a page out of Kim Kardashian’s book. The reality TV star was joined by her doctor on Instagram Stories, and calmly shared some helpful tips to minimize person-to-person body contact to her 162 million followers. “You should not do elbows,” she warned. “Because you cough into your elbow. So no more elbows. Or just do a little bow.”
Or, as the saying goes, if you don’t have anything [helpful to add], don’t say anything at all.