There is a Chinese ‘curse’ that is translated as : “May you live in interesting times”.
Interesting times are pivotal and have the potential to transform the cultural psyche of humanity.
I want to explore a few predictions on what coronavirus could do for humanity. As well as my current thoughts on the topic
It’s Ok not to have an opinion
Everyone has something to say on COVID. Ironically, I’m now writing my opinion on COVID.
But amongst the deluge of information we are consuming, it is ok to say “I don’t know”. Because for 99% of humanity, this is the case. Most people are not epidemiologists or virologists.
I don’t know the repercussions of COVID. I don’t know how it will pan out for society and the economy. I don’t know how many lives will be lost.
At best all we have are models and predictions. But the ‘map is not the territory’. Reacting to changing information is the key. Obviously organisations should be thinking about this deeply, but at the individual level, there is only so much you can understand.
Acknowledging our limited understanding is crucial and finding some comfort in uncertainty can be valuable.
Information Overload and Misinformation
The 24/7 news cycle is something we’ve all become accustomed to. I usually don’t consume any news at all as I found it too distracting and often the most important news tends to find itself to me through others. However recently, Ive been sucked into reading about COVID, and I can’t stop. It really doesn’t add anything valuable.
Furthermore, there is spreading of misinformation on these online platforms, that is hard to avoid. From ’10 ways to boost your immune system’ to Charlatans peddling cures for financial gain.
I see this a lot of WhatsApp and Twitter. Some from doctors which is appalling.
The response is to treat information you read with skepticism, and to trust reputable sources only (e.g. WHO).
Black Swan Events
Taleb describes a black swan as an event that 1) is beyond normal expectations that is so rare that even the possibility that it might occur is unknown, 2) has a catastrophic impact when it does occur, and 3) is explained in hindsight as if it were actually predictable
Although, it doesn’t meet 1) – we definitely knew a pandemic was incoming at some point. This whole ordeal has made me think about Black Swan events.
You should reduce your exposure to negative Black Swans- for example by having savings etc. And try and increase exposure to positive Black Swans.
I need to sit and read Taleb’s books…
Quality Quarantine Time
To stop myself from being at the mercy of the YouTube algorithm even more than I currently am, I’ve been thinking about attention.
I haven’t been quarantined yet, but I’ve already made such a long list of skills I want to try and develop during this down time. But I’ll name a few to hold myself accountable when I check back in a few months
- Calisthenics (since no gym!). Aim to work towards doing a muscle up and free standing handstands
- Guitar : explore jazz standards and theory
- Writing : try and write some more fiction and more on the blog. This is going well so far!
- Reading : jump into Taleb’s work
- Misc : Learn more about film photography. Limit tech usage. Wean myself to a sustainable dose of caffeine. Learn to juggle. Binge listen to ‘History on Fire’ podcast. Avoid getting busted by the police for going on 5+ walks a day.
Predictions on Impact
This is a bit of fun. Not to be taken seriously, but I can’t help speculating the impact it will have long term on humanity.
- More emphasis on Science and Technology – increased funding
- Distributed working : working from home will become a norm
- Increased compensation for healthcare workers and scientists as the public opinion changes.
- ‘Telemedicine’ will become more integrated into the system
- Global cooperation as this can be a demonstration that humanity can work towards a singular goal
- Better preparation for future global pandemics and crises (Global warming, Nuclear war, Technological disruption)
- There will be second order impacts that we won’t see coming. Maybe a spike in birth rates (or divorce) as people are at home. Maybe new hand-gel resistant bugs due to the widespread use of hand sanitiser. Don’t get me started on toilet paper stocks.
I don’t have much to say about Coronavirus, because I don’t really know much. But reading a lot of Sci-fi has given me an inbuilt optimism about humanity. We have the potential for so much good.
Currently, the hospital is eerily quiet. 300+ empty beds.
I hope that we can avoid the worst.