16 March 2020: The Continuing Contagion
This city, my city in which I live, continues to bleed with so many information and uncertainty, the same way other cities shut, isolate, and debilitate from this viral contagion.
Disruption is a new normal, replacing that familiar curve that statistics has taught for centuries. We may have to face this consequence of being too haughty and overconfident as humans. Nonetheless, it’s a good chance to reflect and understand the complexity of this situation.
Something so minute, dimunative, microscopic, without any brain nor bureacratic tool was able to lockdown cosmopolitan and major cities, the global stock market, newly minted airport-malls, and third-world slums. Of course, with the help of none other, human mobility and our invented whims of modernity.
On the other hand, the pandemic will test our capacity to overcome both the biological and Anthropocene. This anthropogenic emergency is nothing new as with the previous plagues and spread of diseases in history: Bubonic plague, Spanish Flu, SARS in 2002, etc. What is new, however, is how we spread the information alongside the actual spread of the illness. We currently have a new wiring. Social media and the flow of data and information in our networked society make this contagion more viral and panic inducing. Will data driven thinking and sociality also help in flattening the bell curve of this spreading malady?
Also, the virus exposes the way states and governments around the world are overwhelmed by their ill-equipped response or overtly unnecessary control of the situation. A great example would be how governments will impose military force in locking down people or a location. The coercion, which is also not new, will just reinforce a resistance from the people knowing that their own will to decide and move around are subjected not by a scientific or medical reason but a subjective rationale as decided by people in bureaucracy. While we face this infection, we too are facing issues about how we deal leadership and control from many ends: the rise of populism and populist thinking amidst strongmen/strong states, the fractured relationships between the masses and their institutions, the great divide between social classes, the presence of vulnerable persons in a population, the ongoing oppressive structures amidst fear and actual health risks.
And so, this contagion, virality, and precarious moment now we live, in which a number is added by the hour – in terms of infection and the amount of panic in our mind and newsfeeds – heightens our deep problems as humans. It unites as in terms of how fallible, vulnerable, and imperfect our systems are. For sure, there’s will be a vaccine in a few months and the curve will slowly dip until things are back to normal, well, at least, in our business as usual affairs. But still, there are millions of questions that will be unanswered, more so, problems unresolved, as this pandemic peter out and hibernate.