Make it Easy

There is too much going on right now. It was my intention not to write about the Coronavirus here but how can I do anything else. Even if I don’t mention it directly, it is safe to say that it is in the background of everything I think about at the moment. How could it not be? Going out of my way to not refer to a major current event that’s affecting the whole world would be extremely obtuse.

Having said that…

At the moment everything feels like a struggle. My natural inclination seems to be to scour the internet news sites and social media as if doing that will keep me and my family safe. What I should really be doing is writing and reading but, however much I enjoy those activities, they offer medium/long term rewards whereas surfing the latest breaking news is instant gratification (albeit with a heavy dose of medium/long term anxiety).

Which is why I am doing my best to make it easy to read and to write. The two fiction books I have on the go at the moment are short story collections and the non-fiction book is about writing. I am also reading them in digital formats (which is uncommon for me lately, but certainly the most convenient format) so they are available on my phone as well as my Kobo reader. I am setting myself limits for when I can check the news and trying my hardest to stick to them. I don’t succeed as often as I would like.

This situation is hard but I am determined not to fall apart and go back to my bad old habits. If I can’t make the progress I originally wanted, I can at least not make it any worse. I am doing my best to make it easy to make the right choices.

A Solution to a Problem It Created

As we prepare for a likely lock down in the UK, social media is playing an important role in getting people organised so we can support the elderly and vulnerable. I am part of a WhatsApp group in the village making preparations for this and, although I am not on Facebook, I know a lot of other volunteers are being found there. It’s fair to say that, without social media, we would just be a number of well meaning people who wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. However… and with network technology it seems like there is always an however, social media is one of the reasons we are in this situation to begin with.

Things were already changing, I suspect, when social media came along. Sixteen years ago, when Facebook first started, we were not living in idyllic communities where everyone knew everyone and we all looked out for each other, that chad been going away for a long time. People were already moving away to live and work in different places, lives were already changing, but without the ease of keeping in touch with old friends there was still an incentive to know who your neighbour was and to have some kind of connection with the people you physically lived near. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more.

Now I could live quite comfortably without knowing the names of my neighbours, let alone what their needs might be. Now it takes a formal organisation to get help to older and vulnerable people whereas once it might have just been something we knew and did. Social technologies are playing an important role in mobilising help, but if they had never existed in the first place we might have kept hold of the old connections we had to our physical environments.

It’s a complex situation and during this crisis it’s too late to do anything about it. Idealistically I am apposed to those tools, but I am more idealistically apposed to letting my neighbours starve, so it’s a question of degrees. But my hope is that, once this crisis is over, it gives us all a chance to reflect on the way we have been living recently. That it reminds us there are real people in our local communities and that we are a part of those communities. I hope that when this is all over we don’t lose the connections that we build.