1 of 12
SHARED EXPERIENCE: We are all shaped by our environment, the sum total of our experiences. Some of such shared experiences, near-cataclysmic ones seen in living memory, had a lasting effect on the way we live. Think of the two Worlds Wars, the Gulf War, 9/11, the 2008 financial crunch. Then there’s the ongoing digital disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic is one such event.
Image Credit: AFP
2 of 12
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: While we all expect the unexpected, no one knows the final outcome of this pandemic. This is uncharted territory. Is it a Noah’s Ark moment —a 40-days-40-nights of downpour, or the “shedding” of untold billions of deadly virus touching every corner of the world? Here’s our best attempt to make sense of what may happen, and the lifelong changes we may see.
Image Credit: Pixabay
3 of 12
DEADLY POWER OF AN UNSEEN ENEMY: An unseen threat, 1/1,000 of a millimeter, only visible using powerful electron microscope, has turned the world on its head. It has affected everything from travel, to banking, manufacturing, retail, and social interactions. We wash our hands more. We become acutely aware of the possible health threats around us. We value regular exercise, and its effect on our immune system — another unseen power within us that boosts our ability to ward off viral threats.
Image Credit: Gulf News archive
4 of 12
VALUE OF FRONTLINERS. A nurse rests during a night shift at a hospital in Cremona, Italy. We now all realise the value of medical workers, from doctors, nurses, medical technologists, ambulance staff, janitors, police and people in the security establishment. People in health and social care, the current “frontliners” in the anti-COVID-19 fight, have never been more valuable in our eyes. People working in this very useful field may also be recognized more, compensated better and kept in their job, instead of being forced out because these jobs don’t pay well, or give them enough to live.
Image Credit: REUTERS
5 of 12
WORK FROM HOME: For the first time, we have rediscovered the possibilities and efficiency gains to be had from working from home. For many of us right now, those who are working from home, fearful about their job or are already jobless, the unsettling effects of coronavirus crisis force us to think hard. We realise how our lives can be disrupted. How, at a drop of a hat (or a virus-laden bat), our options are curtailed and our lives are permanently changed. It's a collective shock from the unexpected changes in the way we live, and move and have our being.
Image Credit: Giphy
6 of 12
INTERCONNECTION vs SOCIAL DISTANCING: Both terms have become part of the global daily lexicon of our time. We are interconnected, yes, in ways we’ve never seen before. But everyone is also expected to do “social distancing”. Within our households, and in the larger society, the deadly virus taught us sort of the unity of opposites. That is, we have rediscovered our need and unprecedented capacity for close interconnection — transcontinental flights, instant messaging and video conferencing — as well as self-isolation, as when an infected husband deliberately stays away from his wife and children, or as countries, even small towns, shut their borders.
Image Credit: ANI
7 of 12
FINITE EARTHLY LIFE: This pandemic forced us to think about how our lives can be suddenly disrupted, to make sense of our greatly limited options on the way we live, and move and have our being. We fully understand — with every announcement of the new numbers of those infection, or died in every country that's been hit — the finite-ness of life. That nothing is permanent. Such events also affect how we make decisions, our choice of words, the personal goals we set.
Image Credit: AFP
8 of 12
RELATIONSHIPS REORIENTED: This global contagion, unleashed by a previously unknown virus with no known specific cure or vaccine, and suffocating tens of thousands to death has changed the way we relate to government, to the outside world, to sports and film stars, to each other.
Image Credit: AP
9 of 12
SPECTATOR SPORT: The Tokyo Olympics is now off by one year. Is it possible that we will see in the coming months — or years — mega spectator sports events, and the industry built around it, dwindling? If not totally decimated? We’ve seen reports about how a major football match in Italy became the super-spreader of the virus. Now basketball and football stars, confined to their homes, are reduced to playing online games. Would we be kept contained in our homes for weeks, perhaps for months? Will the now-familiar social distancing and self-quarantine become part of our daily routine, perhaps turning us into semi-hermits? Will nations stay closed? Will handshakes become taboo, and footshakes become the new greeting?
Image Credit: AP
10 of 12
SHARING PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION: Can humanity fight a deadly, fast-spreading virus by sharing correct health information? Yes, apparently. This is where big data meets medical care. It’s become increasingly clear that a fast, effective way to help your community fight a pandemic is by sharing correct health information. Lying about your travel history or your risk factors could be deadly not only for yourself or your doctor, but also your loved ones. Using AI mining millions of personal health record and travel histories, given on the web or through an app (following a set questionnaire) health authorities and biological data analysts could better fight viral outbreaks, by allocating scarce resources (PPEs, test kits, respirators) where they’re most needed — ahead of time. It’s almost like fighting virus with the right information, where people give their medical histories and risk factors, and symptoms (i.e. coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste of smell or taste or even temperature reading) to beat the virus. This, however, could turn the standard doctor-patient confidentiality practices and laws on their head.
Image Credit: Getty Images/AFP
11 of 12
WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER: We hear increasingly louder calls for solidarity and see daily acts of mercy, or charity, the best trained medical workers who offering their lives to care for the sick, the infirm, the dying. The death-care working buying the dead. Such moments of shared grief across the world also presents unmatched opportunity. There are now increasing calls for permanent ceasefire between the world’s warring, armed-to-the-teeth parties. When rich and poor see the grim reality of pain and death together, there’s less polarisation. Along with social distancing, comes mutual appreciation.
Image Credit: ANI
12 of 12
HEROISM, SIMPLE JOYS, HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE: We also take note of the cases who recovered from COVID-19 with keen interest. The numbers are rising, as the infection curve goes down. We all hope that that if we do get infected, would we become of them. Now, people become heroes just for staying home. And it’s true: not spreading a deadly virus helps preserve life. Withholding social interactions can be a great challenge for some, even mind-numbing. Thankfully, the internet is keeping us ever closer together. Now, more than ever, we appreciate the outdoors. We appreciate the simple, like singing in our balcony for neighbours, cheering our healthcare workers, offering free food to strangers, begging for mercy, praying for each other. We can only hope that in a post-pandemic world, we muster the collective power to to ensure we change for the better, not the worse.
Image Credit: Gulf News archives