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The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the burning issues for today’s society, and people develop their opinions and positions regarding the situation. In their article “‘Immune Boosting’ in the time of COVID: Selling immunity on Instagram,” Wagner et al. (2020) analyze posts in social media during the pandemic and reveal their influence on people’s health. Authors touch upon the trend of “immune-boosting” promoted on Instagram posts during the coronavirus, which promotes different means and products to improve immune and protect the body from the disease.
The authors’ point is that the spread of the virus requires additional improvements and stabilization of the immune system, and ordinary people without specialized knowledge like to share their recommendations and experiences online. However, this information is not always scientifically correct, and social media users have to be careful while recognizing the purposes of #immunebooster posts. Instagram search for “#immunebooster” shows that many posts lack true science but are characterized by commercial content. Thus, the authors conclude that it is crucial to promote immune-boosting and help the population improve their health and avoid COVID-19 complications, but Instagram is not the best place for getting professional advice.
The one-week observation of Instagram content proved immune-boosting as a beneficial trend. People explained that it was possible to straighten their immunity and improve mood, eating habits, and digestion, avoid infections and perfect the condition of the skin. The main recommendations included appropriate diets, the use of supplements and probiotics, physical exercises, and other healthy lifestyle trends. Although no information could be defined as scientifically verified, only a few posts contained cautions. What is more important, the developers of Instagram posts used biomedical terms and health concepts to advertise their services and products. Therefore, it is expected to question the credibility of social media data in terms of immune-boosting during the coronavirus.
A Quotation and a Point
Millions of social media users want to believe in high-quality online information and use hashtags to find quick answers. However, the survey by Wagner et al. (2020) explains, “the harms of the immune-boosting trends on Instagram might not be immediately apparent or quantifiable” (p. 4). In many cases, these concepts are developed for commercial purposes only. There are no scientifically proven health and immunological benefits from the recommendations under #immunebooster posts. This authors’ statement demonstrates that people use immune-boosting products and means that they do not have scientific evidence, and the consequences of such a trend can appear in the future. For example, a person who is confident in his or her immunity after using a product from Instagram can neglect to wear a mask or avoid public places, which increases the risk of contracting coronavirus.
In the article under analysis, the authors demonstrate an extensive use of the term “#immunebooster”. The genus-differentia definition, which consists of two parts, will be used to explain the meaning of “#immunebooster”, but it is necessary to define the term “genus-differentia definition” first. This term characterizes the approach to interpret concepts by highlighting a basic definition uniting all elements of the same category, or “genius”, and a distinguishing definition for a specific phenomenon or object, or “differentia”.
Therefore, the concept of “#immunebooster” has two parts that need to be identified and understood. First, there is a sing “#” (hashtag) that is common for Instagram (a popular online service to share photos and videos) users to create categories for their information and facilitate a search process. Hashtags have already become a popular trend in modern society as a means to drive narratives and enhance perspectives (Wagner et al., 2020). “Immune boosting” is another trending topic during the coronavirus crisis because people want to avoid health complications and believe that boosting their immunity could help. In general, the term “#immuneboosting” may be explained as an online search trend to gather information about boosting someone’s immunity.
The authors use a variety of facts in their article to discuss the theme of immune-boosting on Instagram posts. For example, they used Marwick’s study to describe Instagram “as a key player in the attention economy” (Wagner et al., 2020, p. 1). The attention economy is a management approach to attract people’s attention and increase online popularity using economic terms and theories. Thus, this fact demonstrates that users and companies use the most common economic approaches to gain the public’s attention and keep them online for selling products or content. This statement supports the idea that most of the immune-boosting posts are the results of business companies’ commercial efforts.
This statement is a fact since it is proven by multiple examples of sellers on Instagram and the very algorithm of the social network. In addition, this fact can be independently verifiable by searching works of other scholars and comparing features of the attention economy and Instagram’s work. In a larger discussion, the connection between Instagram and the economy is evident because Wagner et al. (2020) prove that Instagram posts about “immune-boosting” are characterized by science-free content and effective commercial purposes. The chosen fact plays a vital role in understanding the main topic of the article and achieving its research purposes.
Wagner, D. N., Marcon, A. R., & Caulfield, T. (2020). “Immune boosting” in the time of COVID: Selling immunity on Instagram.”Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, 16. Web.