The inevitable COVID-19 post

I don’t normally write about the world outside of tech. It barely gets a passing mention on my blog. But everyone and his dog (or indeed pangolin) is talking about Coronavirus and I can’t help joining in.

Even Home Assistant has got involved, offering an integration to display the current levels of the virus using data from Johns Hopkins University. I set it up for the screenshot but I’m not sure I want to keep it prominently displayed.

Why am I writing about it? Like most people, I’m anxious and yes, a little scared. Writing about it helps me to get the thoughts out of my head – it’s a kind of therapy. I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind (that’s a direct quote from a book and kudos to those who get it)

I’m in a relatively lucky position. I can work from home and my company has pretty much mandated it for everyone that possibly can. I’m a short walk from supermarkets that I can see are getting fresh stock regularly and, while some things are in short supply, I expect that to be temporary. I’m not going to starve, and I’m not going to take a major financial hit in the short to medium term. Lots of people have it far worse, from freelancers whose income is affected to frontline workers who have no choice but to put themselves at risk. The best thing that I – and others in my position – can do is to stay out of the way and not become part of the problem.

There is a lot of misinformation out there and I think it’s just desperation to find answers where, at this stage, there are none. I wrote a long paragraph highlighting some inconsistent reports about the true state and danger of the virus. I’ve just deleted it. I’m not a specialist and I don’t have the ability to even begin to assess the validity of the things I’m reading so I’m certainly not going to pass them on. For every new story, tweet or post that offers a hint of hope there’s another that scares me silly.

The point is simply that it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of reading contradictory stories and, if you’re not careful, end up in true tinfoil hat territory. I’m doing my best to stay away from that stuff. It’s not easy. Reaching a level of acceptance that fear, uncertainty and doubt will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future is a major challenge that we all face.

I’ve got a week off work and, obviously, all the plans I had are now cancelled. I’m going to try to use the time to catch up on a few tech projects that I’ve been thinking about for a while. To be honest I don’t know how successful that will be – I’m finding it incredibly hard to remain focused. I’m even finding it hard to enjoy new media – books, TV or films. I’d rather comfort read or watch an old favourite.

I’ll try to keep up with the tech blogging – it all feels incredibly unimportant at the moment, but it might help to take my mind off the news.

That all sounds grim, so I’ll end this post on a more positive note. This will pass. Pandemics have come and gone through history. We may have to live with it recurring, we may have to live with a greater level of risk in our lives, but eventually we will reach a balance and find a way to live with the new reality.

The world may look a little different – and, maybe, a little better. Maybe this pause in normal life will help us all to realise what’s really important – that certain jobs deserve more reward than they get, that healthcare is a vital public good, that we don’t need to travel so much, and that we need to work together as a community…

… well, that would be a wonderful vision, but I suspect the presence of bouncers at supermarkets to break up fights over the last packet of pasta suggest that I’m probably being overly optimistic about human nature, at least in this part of the world…

This has been an unusual post for me, and normal service will resume. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home if you can, and wash your hands…

in Random Musings

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