Day 21

Day 21 – total confirmed cases in US: 312,249

The public square will always have its necessary function. And nothing can replace the human touch. But remote communication, for work and family, was already a growing part of society, especially with younger people, before the virus made that growth exponential.

For older people, those who grew up in a world without computers and with phones that only made phone calls, remote communication can seem distant and cold, accelerating fear of an impersonal society.

Isolation has showed us how connected we are. If this virus had hit in the 1950s, the only available personal communication devices would have been the telephone and the mailbox. For entertainment, there would have been the phonograph, the radio, and, if you were lucky enough, a television with a small black and white screen that broadcast four channels, except for late at night, when it broadcast a test pattern.

test pattern
a test pattern

Now, it can feel like everybody is a stranger and nobody is a stranger. We tell each other our stories and learn a little bit about a lot of people, instead of too much about too few. We are listening to each other more, whether we want to or not. We are unavoidable.

The system is on pause.

Before we start it up again we might want to think about re-starting something a little different. When something as enormous and horrible as this pandemic happens there is no way to go back to the life we knew before it. Now might be a good time to encourage older workers to take an early retirement and make some room in the workforce for younger people, who are already learning to work, and communicate, differently. We could lower the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare, and hand the reins of power to a younger generation. Who knows? Maybe they will figure a way to build a system that doesn’t run on greed and fear.

restarting the gears

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