Unexpected Positives of a Pandemic
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I often think how I’d like the world to be different: I wish the world was more humane, more connected, had more shared experience. In the early 21st century, technology, phones, media bubbles, etc have all driven our individual experiences more toward atomization, separation, cliques. Our phones and social media conspire to trap our attention away from our friends. We are then compelled to constantly compare our everyday to everyone’s highlight reel on social media. We are made to feel both inadequate and isolated, creating a horrible feedback loop by which we become more addicted to the shallow escapism and distraction of social media. Humanity serving technology’s needs, not the other way around. Douglas Rushkoff wrote about this much more eloquently in his fantastic manifesto “Team Human” (link to Amazon page). I highly recommend.
I wish that people had a greater recognition of our impermanence and frailties; we have only one life to live (that we for sure know of) and many live in such fear of loss and death that they're distracted from actually living life. (Image: wildflower glowing on the western side of Mount Palomar)
I wish that people had more appreciation for our institutions, and acknowledge that we are 100% dependent on our environment: the air we breathe, the food we eat. I wish that people did not have such amnesia of the vast majority of human existence and history, where we would face the constant peril of infectious diseases that could, in one fell swoop, wipe out everything that we spend our days caring about. Science, sanitation, and vaccines have allowed a century of reprise from these scenarios, not since the 1918 influenza pandemic have we experienced something similar.
As the pandemic sets in, humanity finds itself looking in the mirror. We are going to experience things that will give empathy for our great-grandparents, and all those that came before. We will likely see some hard times ahead. The world will change, and what causes perhaps the most anxiety is that we do not yet know *how* the world will change, or *how much.*
Although we will be forced further into physical isolation for some time, the same technology that has spurned so much partisanship and separation is now the way that we all stay connected; the technology is serving us more, not the other way around. We can no longer compare ourselves to everyone's manufactured highlight reel; we all have more or less the same experience of isolation. Shared difficulty breeds camaraderie. Everyone forced into isolation, and with no one living the highlight reel there is simply no possibility of FOMO. We can no longer live vicariously through others. We suddenly have no other life to live but our own present existence.
The lack of social interaction suddenly makes us appreciate the people in our lives so much more, and if there are any positives to our experience, my hope is that it will encourage more of the human interactions that give our lives meaning, that we will reach a more harmonious relationship with technology, the environment, and ourselves.
And with that, I wish you best of luck, dear friend. We are all in this together.
19 April 2020 edit: I'm at times a bit OCD, and opted to change the cover photo to more fit with the general color aesthetic for other images on the site.