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Coronavirus denial and the new normal

Coronavirus denial
Photo credit: Ryan McGuire of

Many of us are still in denial about the coronavirus pandemic. And this coronavirus denial is the deadlier disease.

The world has changed. This is the new normal. This isn’t something that will blow over in a few weeks or months. This is actually the World War III that nations never planned for, because we were so complacent despite previous outbreaks.

Brave new world

Yes, we should remain hopeful, live one day at a time, and encourage and help each other so that we can overcome this crisis. But we can only fix a problem if we stop denying that it exists. It’s better to face the bitter truth than to tell ourselves comforting lies.

The world after coronavirus will be a different one. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can prepare.

“Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger. Entire countries serve as guinea-pigs in large-scale social experiments. What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, governments, businesses and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times.”

In the early days of this war, coronavirus denial caused people to dismiss it as nothing more serious than the flu. Some even claimed that it was a hoax.

Even now, with social distancing and quarantines becoming the new normal, we still seem to be in denial. Some people keep acting as if this is just a temporary inconvenience, when nations are in crisis and thousands of people have already died.

The end of business as usual

How selfish is it to think of politics, profit, and personal comfort at a time like this? Particularly those of us who are more privileged than the masses. If you’re complaining that you’re bored, or that Netflix and YouTube are streaming video in SD, then you’re one of the lucky ones because you’re not starving or dying.

Society seems so impatient to return to business as usual, as if this is just a temporary blip. As if we can just go back to our capitalistic and consumerist ways and pretend nothing happened. One alarming example is how Trump can’t wait to put an end to social distancing in the US because the economy and his reelection are more important to him.

For so many years now, tech journalists and the tech industry have been telling society that it’s time to embrace digital. But there was always an excuse.

Embracing digital

Over the years, I’ve heard it all from skeptics. That people will always read newspapers, because you can take the newspaper with you to the bathroom but you can’t bring your computer. That people will always prefer to go the mall or physical stores instead of shopping online.

That the company’s infrastructure isn’t ready for work from home, and anyway it’s bad for teamwork and productivity. That people will always want to go to the movie house and watch films on the big screen. That people will always prefer to use cash.

Turns out, when a pandemic forces us to do it, even the skeptics can embrace digital.

I guess more businesses now will realize that embracing digital doesn’t just mean digital marketing, but actual digital transformation.

They have to. Because that’s the only way they will survive in this brave new world.

History has its eyes on us

So where does humanity go from here? This arguably will be the biggest turning point in civilization’s brief history, so we have to choose wisely.

Will humanity heed this wake-up call?

“There are two ways this could go. We could, as some people have done, double down on denial. Some of those who have dismissed other threats, such as climate breakdown, also seek to downplay the threat of Covid-19. Witness the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who claims that the coronavirus is nothing more than ‘a little flu’. The media and opposition politicians who have called for lockdown are, apparently, part of a conspiracy against him.

“Or this could be the moment when we begin to see ourselves, once more, as governed by biology and physics, and dependent on a habitable planet. Never again should we listen to the liars and the deniers. Never again should we allow a comforting falsehood to trounce a painful truth. No longer can we afford to be dominated by those who put money ahead of life. This coronavirus reminds us that we belong to the material world.”

The choice is up to us.


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