GOING ONLINE IN A PLAGUE YEAR – COVID News – Final Issue
When I started COVID NEWS, I had hoped to hear from other people about how they were coping with the pandemic, what they were doing, feeling, thinking. I didn’t hear from anyone, and it’s understandable. I suspect most of us are just overwhelmed. Many of us are busy all day every day trying to complete our winter courses and put our summer courses online. Others are trying to navigate the CERB for money to pay the rent and buy food. My wife and I spend our entire day trying to master one complex computer procedure after another. Not only are we fraught with worry about our children, several of whom are essential workers, not only are we wrestling with uncertainties about the future, we are anxiously preoccupied with elaborate machine protocols like screencast-o-matic, Bongo, Cisco Webex Meetings, and dozens of others. We are both on the phone to clients or technical assistants so often that the house sounds like a cross between a call centre and an emergency dispatch.
This is hard, and it would be harder to be unemployed. One of the most difficult features of this terrible crisis is one cannot stop to think, one must continue running at top speed in the midst of a plague. How strange this is. We are immured in our houses staring into computer screens or phone screens or television screens until we collapse for hours of anxious sleep, and then we rise to do it again. Not only are we threatened with a disease, which could be deadly for some of us, we are driven and harried by the need to get connected. Walks in the neighborhood are not a respite. They are more like military reconnaissance, avoiding dog walkers and bikers and joggers like so many snipers and landmines.
I had thought COVID NEWS might be our documentary record for another time. We are passing together through one of the great changes of the world, and when it is over (as it will be one day), we may wish to remember it and what we thought and felt. My paternal grandmother had lived through both the First World War and the Spanish Influenza, and some of our relatives had died in those great events, but when I asked my grandmother about it, she couldn’t tell me much. It had all passed over her like a breaking wave, and when it left her alive and breathing on the strand, she forgot all about it and resumed her daily life as if nothing had happened. Perhaps that is best. Perhaps putting one foot in from of the other doing the same things we have always done is best, both during and after these traumatic events. Imagine dealing with all our daily challenges and having to care for children as well. People are just trying to survive.
At the end of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, and in the radio adaptation of Orson Welles, a lonely radio operator sends out signals that have no answer until he imagines he is the last person alive. Writing COVID NEWS is a bit like that, and it will be suspended now. Let’s hope there’s a vaccine soon, or a treatment, or a deliverance, so we can go back to just living our ordinary lives. All the Best Until Another Time