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Friday, 10 April 2020

Social distancing and Covid-19

I feel like I want to write something, just so I have a written record of what is going on at the moment. I don't really have much to say though.

This virus has spread across the world at an alarming pace. On 12th and 13th Feb, I was at the Learning Technologies conference and exhibition at the Excel Arena in London. Now, only weeks later, the Excel is the Nightingale Hospital and we're not allowed to go anywhere. Even if, like me, you quite like working from home and having social distance when you go outdoors, the speed with which this has happened can feel quite scary!

What I don't like about this

1. Every time I hear the news, more people have died. Initially it was small numbers but now it's hundreds of people a day. Watching the news makes me think about that scene in the last Harry Potter film, where Ron was listening to the radio in his tent, just hoping he didn't hear bad news about his family. The thing that really upsets me, is knowing that these people are dying alone and that families are grieving alone. It's just horrific!

2. I miss being able to meet up with family, especially my sons. I usually head to the coast at least once a fortnight. I might not see the boys very often, but we all know we can when we want to. Not being able to visit people and places is probably the worst part of this. 

3. Random food shortages. First it was just toilet rolls, which didn't worry us, as we buy on bulk and still have loads left from our last delivery. It was when we couldn't get basics like milk, bread and flour, that I started to feel a little bit panicky. It's also quite stressful sending Neil shopping without me. I have a difficult food allergy - difficult in the sense that it's not one of the main allergens, not in bold and it can be hidden on the ingredients list. We have to check everything we buy and Neil's eyesight is ageing, such that he can't see tiny ingredient fonts. 

Some of the things I like about this

1. Working from home all the time. I normally go into the office 2 days a week and work at home the rest. It has been wonderful working from home full time. If anything good could come from this, it would be allowing me to make this my norm! I haven't had to queue to go to the toilet once in the last month. I haven't struggled to get a drink or my lunch or anything. My home is set up perfectly for my needs. It's the most comfortable place for me to be. 

2. Reduced risk of being 'helped'. I'd had a few experiences, just before this began, of people trying to enforce help on me. I really don't like the fear of being man-handled when I go out. Now, everybody is largely keeping their distance. I think, even if I needed help, I wouldn't get it, as nobody wants to touch anyone else. This makes my daily walks a lot less stressful. 

3. Family Zoom/Kahoot/JackboxTV sessions. For the last few weeks, we've had regular family online get togethers, where we've played games and shared quizzes. It has been really good fun and brought us together in a way that we rarely use normally. Of course, it's no real substitute for face-to-face time but we're all a bit geeky and enjoy playing games and doing quizzes at family parties anyway.

4. My last one is a wider issue. We desperately need to make changes to our lifestyles if we are to halt the damage that we are doing to this planet. This virus has made us stop all the frantic travel, challenged us to consider what are essentials, and has made us more aware of the things that matter. I feel like our value systems had become warped and this is helping us to reassess and get our values back in line. 

After this is over

I hope things don't just go back to how they were when this is all over. It would be such a waste. I hope that on many levels, we change for the better:

1. Working from home - if people want to work from home, and there is no operational reason why not, then why not?

2. Values - people are more valuable than stuff. Being caring is more important than being rich. We all have the capacity to put the needs of others first. Let's keep doing that.

3. Politics - the last few years, politics has been full of nastiness and hate. We are showing that it doesn't have to be that way. Parties can work together, with appropriate challenge but without all the spite. I hope that the political landscape changes after this and becomes more focussed on making this country a better place to live.

4. Humility - the human race had become rather superior. We were convinced that we could do what we liked. Nothing could stop us. We are so clever, know so much, we're pretty much invincible. This virus has shown us what we don't know. It has challenged that sense of invincibility. A microscopic, invisible virus has brought the whole world to a standstill. We are not in charge of this world. Living on earth is a privilege and a huge responsibility. I hope we begin to take that responsibility more seriously, with a more humble attitude. 

I feel like there are only three more things to be said: stay home, save lives, protect the NHS! 

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