I’ve been at home now for two weeks. I decided to self-isolate fairly promptly to avoid any risk to myself, my family or anyone else. I was pleased to see the advice from Nassim Nicholas Taleb was finally gaining traction: over-caution in pandemics is actually good. Currently there is a low risk to myself (the chance of a car accident may still be higher for me as an individual) but the risk to society is exponentially greater if I don’t act during a pandemic. So the morally good thing to behave in a risk averse way.
So that’s what I did for two week already. The Government seems to have caught up now with what many people started doing and has implemented a lock down. It’s going to be another three weeks (probably extendable).
Upon hearing this news, almost immediately, my apartment felt 50% smaller. I started missing the things I love doing: cycling around, gym, meeting up with people, eating out.
I also noticed that many of the places that I can just be, are also out of bounds. Going to the river, picking up a photography book in the bookshop, having a beer next to the fire in the pub.
At the same time there’s a financial crisis going on (catalysed but not caused by the pandemic) and people seem only partly aware of it. Their bandwidth is taken up by fear of coughing. Many will become very aware when they lose their jobs.
But this time will be different. In 2009, I lived near St Pauls in London and I remember very well the Occupy St Pauls movement as a result of the Global financial crisis. It was people taking action in the form of peaceful occupation and peaceful civil disobedience, particularly directed towards the banks that profited from their own wrecklessness.
Of course, that won’t happen now. Groups of any more than two people will be fined for at least some time.
People will swallow whatever pill is given to them to explain the shortcomings. The excuse is too good.
So, I cannot wait for this to stop but I have this nagging feeling that when we come out at the other side, the world will be a slightly different place.