I have been staying and working from home for months now. I go out to buy food and essentials, and try to avoid as much people as I possibly can.
Every time I enter the train, I even subconsciously have to hold my breath and I notice that everyone else seems to be as guarded as I do.
Social distancing seems to be well observed here in Singapore.
Two out of four chairs in a table in hawker centers are marked with an ‘X’ on seats and table surface to disperse people from sitting altogether.
The floor surfaces were taped with horizontal lines to guide people queueing in malls and MRT stations and keep everyone having a distance of one-meter apart.
Still, Singapore is business as usual compared to the rest of the world where everywhere else has stopped.
Even just a daily commute may seem to be a daily struggle for me, but I imagine, how are those frontliners at the hospitals doing right now?
Just thinking about all these anxieties and fears, I have been trying to set a coping strategy to mentally strengthen myself prepared at a current global pandemic we are all fighting in.
A fight where our best action is to not do anything, to stay still, to stay calm and to be constantly aware of our actions, at every ticking of the clock.
I have so many realizations during these hard times but I can only tell a picture of the realities that have bothered me the most.
1. When The News, The Noise and The ‘Anxious You’ Come Together
Most of us have witnessed the transition of the name from Wuhan virus, to Novel coronavirus, up to the official COVID-19 name.
Early January, the East have been scrambling to contain the spread of the virus while the West observes and live their lives business as usual.
I have witnessed how unaffected countries shrugged it off as a common ordinary flu up to the point where governments have to lock-down the entirety of cities and countries when the death tolls started to roll exponentially.
Now, most world governments has now been taking drastic measures to contain and prevent the virus from spreading. We’ve all been advised to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus and that’s the best solution so far in order to flatten the curve as what they say.
Was it too late for the West to take action, to contain the spread of the virus? If they took it seriously, what should have been done?
Noise, as what most would say ‘fake news’ have stirred my perception and causing me confusion. Like listening to music, when surrounded by noise, it’s hard to get the message of the song.
Some Facebook posts tell stories speculating it was an intentional bio-weapon to bring down competitive economies.
To add to that, I’ve been receiving messages about scary number of cases and deaths that is even not in sync with what the health authorities have been saying. What’s worse is that those people who are sending the messages came from families and friends.
What I usually observe is that most sociable type of people have more tendency to ‘believe’ something coming from families and friends. This might not be the case for more intellectuals as they would trust higher authority or credible news sources that provide evidence based facts rather than sentiments.
Sometimes I think how creative those people are who design and fabricate stories that aren’t based on evidence. Although, I am just saddened that their creativity may have caused delusion and misdirection and created distorted reality.
The News And The Noise Causing Anxieties
The news and the noise have caused me so much anxiety nowadays. Even though its essential for me to get updated, I think its also important to filter information that is credible enough to inform us with what measures we should do while we are all at home.
From my wireless communication subject during my college days (I am an electronics engineering major), we were taught how important it is to minimize the noise when we transmit the signal from one point to another.
One of the ways to minimize the noise is through modulation. If you’re familiar with AM (Amplitude Modulation) and FM (Frequency Modulation) I think they’re good examples.
Both provides a way of minimizing the noise when a signal is being transmitted from one point, let’s say in a technical term, a transmitter and the receiver. When the transmitter transmits the information over the air, the signal gets distorted and noise gets added to it.
Upon receiving the signal, the receiver has to remove the noise to retrieve the original information at the best it could have. You can do more research about it but I just wanted to point out how we could set this as an analogy to our current news and noise scenario.
As information spreads like wildfire, with more and more noise along with it, I hope we could device a way where we can modulate or maybe regulate the noise without compensating our ability to express ourseves freely. Like what we did in our wireless communication class.
2. When The Only Thing That Is Asked Of Us Is To Fight In A War By Doing Nothing, Yet We Still Even Can’t
Staying at home might have been so difficult for many, including me. Even by just doing nothing seems to be a tedious task. Our modern lifestyle has brought us so many choices in life yet so little time to accomplish things.
Some says our generation might be the luckiest in history. We may have not experienced hundred years of wars and widespread famine the past generations have gone through. We may not be experiencing overpopulation, the depletion of natural resources and rising sea levels caused by global warming that the future generations might succumb into.
In general, we are taking for granted the diversity of experiences that consumerism has brought us now. We might be thankful to the past generations for giving us these perks but the future generations might be hating us now for the suffering we inherited to them as a result of our pleasures.
Our current lifestyle is restless and the virus is teaching us a valuable lesson that we have not been thankful enough for all the great things we have now. We still want more, more and more.
3. When We Can Still Exist With Just The Basics
Most affected countries implemented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. In most countries implementing the lockdown, all of the establishments are closed except for the basic goods and services such as groceries, bakeries, hospitals and others.
You can imagine those businesses what we called “the basic providers” that have been closed compared to those that are “not so basic” ones?
If we try to think about the vast contrast between the consumerist system we are experiencing before the pandemic against the back to basics we have right now, yet we’re still alive though not so pleasurable.
I’m still imagining how our lives would have been if we live the same way our earliest human ancestors did where all they got to think of is food, water, shelter, clothing and building a family.
They may not have mobile phones or travel itineraries that we enjoy now, but we could still be the same as being grateful as them, having food in our plates or having a meaningful conversation with a family. It’s not that bad after all?
4. When Someone Dearest To You Becomes Just Another Number
A death of a hero is a tragedy, a death of a thousand is a statistic
How come a quote from a video game has struck me about the reality not only during these times but also a truth to historical events?
I stumbled upon the quote while playing Civilization V. It made me think how a life with a soul and from the eyes of his/her friends and closest families is significant, but in the eyes of the many, will only become just a single tick of the count.
I realized that the more we know about the person, the more significant they become. The less you know about someone, you don’t matter after all.
It speaks truth to celebrities, politicians, athletes and most famous people. The more people know you, the more significant your life will be.
This reminds me of a Pixar movie called “Coco”. A human soul’s significance is based on memories. Your existence in the afterlife is based on how many people holds a memory of you. The moment nobody in the real world holds a memory of you, you cease to exist in the land of the dead.
It’s hard for me to imagine the idea where people becomes just numbers, unless that specific number is someone very close to you.
We may not realize that a number, with a kind, gentle and loving human spirit could be quantified into something that is lifeless, such as a number.
5. When Our Inherently Selfish Human Nature Starts To Unravel
Survival Instinct Kicks-in
Upon arriving at our unit, I stumbled seeing two of my flatmates stashing canned goods, oatmeals, eggs, and so much food in the kitchen, more than they could consume in a month. Our kitchen has become a mini 7-eleven with such amount of stocked supplies.
By that time, an announcement has been made that the alert code level was changed from code yellow to code orange. It actually means that things are getting far more serious.
Most people in the groceries try to get as much food and household supplies as much as they can even though they might not need it at the moment.
There had been viral videos about people fighting over last supply for toilet papers. People can still survive without toilet papers but the discomfort might seem unbearable for most people.
I have also seen a mother in Australia weeping over a milk for her child as she saw empty stalls where boxes of milk should have been in place.
Our will to survive could be inherit in our human nature to survive, the will to live. We might not think of others but its just the default to keep us going.
Not everything I noticed were selfish acts but acts that try to preserve others and willing to take risks to help preserve others.
We can see people in the streets give free face-masks and sanitizers without asking anything in return. Doctors, nurses, janitors and other frontliner staffs in hospitals working non-stop to save other lives even at a greater risk of contracting the virus harming one’s self.
Nature have been ruthless and savage at times. Selfishness as it may seem but survival instincts is one of the human’s greater qualities that keep us alive. Selflessness, as fascinating as it seems, is one of the best qualities of being a human that keeps the most of us alive.
6. When We Think The World’s Doomed Or Doing Just Fine?
People have this perception sometimes that the world will about to end, that the world has been temporarily closed down as if it is a commercial establishment.
There had been some evidence showing that the earth has rested for awhile given the coronavirus situation. Dolphins showed up in Venice urban waterways, the air pollution in most countries have somewhat gone down.
The idea of humans not ever present in this world seems radical but I’m curious to think if the world has been better off with us being slowed down or even without us?
Will the earth able to reinvigorate as to its most natural state as it is if we slowed down human activities in just a short period of time? The virus seems to give the world a day-off and can we humans, provide the world the same right as any other workers have even just for a short period of time like what’s currently happening now?
7. How About You? What Have You Reflected So Far?
So there’s no seventh unfortunately and will leave this for you to think about. I am curious what you have in mind? You can leave a comment below if you care to share your thoughts.
I am thankful for your attention and taking your time reading this first blog post I made. I hope it gave you at least something that will keep us pondering and reflecting.
Wherever you are right now, I hope you are doing well. Again, thank you and be safe!