I always thought it was only good for destroying the world, but now I’m here to boldly predict that social media will ultimately save us. 

After the horrors we’ve been through these past few years with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you probably didn’t see that hypothesis coming. But here’s how it’s going to happen: by people posting pictures of themselves getting vaccinated. #soproud #betyouwishyouwereme  #blessed. 

We’re used to seeing social media utilized most effectively and efficiently to spread misinformation and hate, but lately with the vaccine rollout it’s metastasizing something even more important — envy. 

In the past, that mostly happened when your loosely defined “friends” tastelessly posted glossy vacation photos from exotic places you’ll never visit or dining adventures you’ll never replicate. Now they’re inspiring new heights of jealousy by flaunting their vaccination status, and that’s a good thing. #gotmyshot #doingmypart #solucky 

With a significant percentage of the population, and a disturbing number of long-term care staff, still unwilling to be vaccinated, I’ve been feeling a tad discouraged about how or if we’ll ever reach the rates required to end the pandemic. But that was before I remembered the one motivator that seems to guide every decision people make these days — whether they can share a photo of it. #myturn #ideservedit 

In the first wave, most images posted were from healthcare workers in obvious clinical settings, and since it was clear they were top priority, jealousy wasn’t so much a factor. But as celebratory photos started showing up from folks not obviously connected to Phase 1, the true power and magic of social media kicked in. 

Now a vaccination post from someone on the periphery seems likely to be followed with a thread of questions about how they got the shot ahead of someone else who needed it more, followed by tortuous justifications for why it was appropriate. The interpersonal conflict is unfortunate, but on the bright side, it’s effectively feeding the spiral of envy that I believe will ensure future participation. #ihaveagoodexplanation #trustmeonthis #imspecial

This will pay big dividends going forward, as people are robotically pushed to follow the vaccination photo trend and respond in kind. Fear and skepticism will be no match for feelings of crippling inferiority and jealousy. When the vaccines are finally widely available, they’ll be lining up for miles from sea to shining sea. The web will break. Herd immunity will be reached. The world will be saved. 

So to everyone who has posted a photo of themselves getting the shot, thanks for being a vaccine influencer. It’s been a bit annoying sometimes, but #whateverittakes.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.