Six Crucial COVID-19 Prevention Tips
A Public Service Announcement
Oliver Hacker ’24 (Undeclared)
Created for Writing In Professional Contexts, taught by Professor Lebduska
At this point in the pandemic we’ve all heard it countless times: “wear a mask.” And for the most part the message seems to have gotten across; everyone willing and able to wear a mask wears one, and anyone who still won’t wear a mask refuses to do so precisely because they know they’re supposed to wear one. So when I made a video PSA on COVID and masking in November, I decided it wouldn’t be all that helpful to make yet another plea for people to mask up. People seemed convinced— I rarely encountered someone in public not wearing a mask while inside. But I did run into numerous people wearing their masks blatantly wrong. Exposed noses, poorly tied bandanas that amount to little more than questionable fashion accessories, the list goes on. There was such an initial push to simply get people to wear masks that the explanation of how to wear a mask and how to stay safe got drowned out. With that in mind, I chose to do my PSA on the nitty gritty of COVID safety.
So, I researched what the average person can do to avoid catching or transmitting COVID. After reading the most recently published studies on the matter, it seemed clear that it could be broken down into six key preventative behaviors that, if followed properly, would drastically reduce one’s chances of getting sick. I decided that my PSA should clearly enumerate these behaviors and then explain in necessary detail how to do them. The first was to wear a mask, so I explained how to select an adequate mask, how to properly wear a mask, and how to handle one— an unexpected consideration that was mentioned in more than one study. The other five behaviors discussed in the video are hand washing, respiratory hygiene, avoiding touching the face, social distancing, and quarantining or self-isolating under the necessary circumstances.
After organizing my information into a focused message, I was posed with the challenge of imparting that information in a video. Although film is a hugely versatile medium, it’s definitely not the easiest. As someone with very limited experience making videos, I struggled with the dissonance between how I planned to convey the information I’d assembled and what I was actually able to create due to my technical shortcomings. Take the first key behavior, mask wearing, for example. I wanted a clip showing each type of mask as I discussed which were adequate and which were inadequate. I gathered about 8-10 masks to use as examples. Showing each one off shouldn’t be that hard, right? I’m sure it would be easy for Spielberg, but for me it was far more of an endeavor than I expected. I had to make sure that each clip was the right length, that each clip lined up exactly with the voiceover, that the clips transitioned cleanly into each other, and so on. All fairly routine considerations for a filmmaker, but significant obstacles for a writer whose main goal is to get their message across, not to snag an Oscar for best cinematography.
As someone who not infrequently finds myself obsessing over my work to the point of perseveration, it was actually nice to be forced to make creative compromises. Watching the finished product, I was pleasantly surprised at how happy I was with it despite my limitations. It’s good to remember that the things we create exist in the world outside our mind and not within it, so although we’re rarely able to make something exactly as we imagine it’s often the better for it.
Thank you to Professor Lebduska for you guidance and valuable input.
Click the link at the top of the page to watch the video.