COVID-19 has changed us. So, as The Royals settled into isolation, we set a challenge. Creatively respond to the statement ‘coronavirus is like…’. Here’s what we came up with.
– Ken Sum
This fetish of the apocalypse I’ve been carrying for years
Has started feeling real enough to peel away my skin
See, I went six months without remembering any of my dreams
And now they’re all about the things that used to bore me
Sometimes it seems as if the cracks in the walls are getting bigger
Sometimes it’s easier to keep laughing at the spaces in between
Maybe I’ll start digging. Maybe we should all start digging
Fuck, if hell is other people I’d rather have you there with me
– Dan Michael Jones
It’s been a wild 24 months in the world of data. In early 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke and millions of people realised organisations had access to a wealth of information about them. This led to the EU enforcing GDPR legislation, which regulated the need to ask for permission to collect data and to report data security breaches. And this led to a movement towards data protection – adblockers, private browsers and VPNs to prevent companies accessing their data.
Now, the world is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. The healthcare systems of Italy, Spain, USA and Iran are being overwhelmed. But some countries like Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have managed to ‘flatten the curve’. How have they managed this? By accessing the personal data of millions of people.
Each of these countries was able to flatten the curve by tracking and tracing people’s movements via phone GPS, apps, security camera footage, even credit card records and matching them against health and travel records. The constant surveillance ensured those who contacted COVID-19 remained in quarantine and those who had interacted with them were notified early so they could self-isolate. Countries wanting to emulate Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan’s success are realising they will need to breach individual privacy for the sake of social security.
My take on all this is that once the pandemic passes we will come to accept some loss in data privacy (that we had only just won 24 months ago) for the greater good; and governments and organisations that have been granted access to our personal data will be reluctant to give it up.
– Dr Paul Vella
– Luke Danzig
Coronavirus is a reminder that we are all connected. It’s pretty confronting being in lockdown. I miss my friends, family, colleagues, the daily commute, having somewhere to rush to, a sense of purpose. I miss feeling connected to my fellow humans. The iso blues are real, so I’ve been meditating – a lot.
Mostly when I’m meditating I try to focus on my breath – noticing without judgement when thoughts arise. This morning I was feeling particularly lonely, and the thought that kept coming up was just how quickly Coronavirus has spread.
I’m picturing those weird tree graphs that are being circulated online, illustrating how one person with corona can quickly and unwittingly share the horrible virus to thousands, its grotty tentacles reaching out insidiously. Ironically, isolation is a powerful reminder of how connected we all are.
My mind wanders on… drifting on this idea that there actually is no separation. When you breathe out, a moment later another person will be breathing in an atom that is still warm from your lungs. It’s kind of gross, but I like this thought – that on a cellular level, we are constantly recycling each other’s stuff. The air we breathe holds us together.
The corona tree graph pops back into view. I imagine all the nice things that we share without thinking about it. Laughter, kindness, emotional warmth, even love – the positive energy of these things is deeply felt. When you share your good vibes with me, you make me happy and I share that happiness with others.
Love spreads like a virus. Our goodness, our love reaches thousands too… now that’s a thought that just might carry me through these crazy times!
– Belinda Cecchini
Coronavirus is a collective dropping of the guard. This story is a mash-up of actual quotes and snippets from what has been posted by others in my social feed:
It’s okay if you are not creating right now. It’s okay just to survive for a bit. No shits given. Come to grips with three existential truths and meditate HARD. Went a little mad today after realising I hadn’t touched another human being for two weeks. Counting down the days til we’re reunited. Went for a very long walk. A socially distanced bushwalk. Comfort in ritual. My quarantine shadow. It is wonderful and undoing in equal quantities. Neighbours dropped off some saffron milk cap mushrooms. Good friends are the best antidote. Tonight, many of us were meant to be enjoying opening night of La Traviata at Handa outdoor opera on Sydney Harbour. Mum is spending all her time hiding in the bathroom watching TikTok videos on repeat. Everyone knows she has a stash of uppers hidden somewhere in the house. Just add vodka. It’s a trap. Sunday morning. I don’t know how to do this. But then I was sent these pictures from a Country Women’s Association shop in Hobart and it rather warmed my cockles.
– Dave Rood
Coronavirus is house arrest for climate crime.
– Anthea Wright
I don’t know if I have 250 words in me for this, but it’s sure making me think about building a tiny house and GTFO of the city.
– Kitty Turpin
– Nick Cummins
Coronavirus is good conspiracy theory fodder. In these uncertain times, it’s hard to know who or what to believe. The only certainty is that people will jump to conclusions and spread wild conspiracy theories and fear. Here’s a list of the best and worst conspiracy theories doing the rounds:
- The coronavirus is part of an American plot to ruin the Chinese economy.
- The coronavirus is part of a Chinese plot to ruin America’s economy.
- Disney+ released COVID-19 just in time for its launch.
- COVID-19 arrived from space.
- The UK government is baking a giant lasagne.
- The French government is making a ginormous garlic bread.
- Russian officials released lions to patrol the streets in an effort to enforce social isolation.
- Cocaine cures COVID-19.
- Drinking cow urine protects against COVID-19.
- Greta Thunberg caused COVID-19 to help with climate change.
- China has a vaccine that they will:
- Sell to the rest of the world.
- Give to the rest of the world for free as a sign of power.
- COVID-19 is 5G attacking our brains.
Stay tuned and question everything.
– Lewis Farrar
– Ken Sum
Coronavirus is a kick in the gut. A lot of conversations I’m having with friends – virtually, because I haven’t seen any of them for more than two weeks – revolve around what this fucked-up virus is teaching us. And what it’s teaching us is how to slow down, how to truly focus on one day at a time. It’s teaching us what’s important – health and community, helping each other – and it’s teaching us what gratitude really means. I think about how at the end of this storm, we’ll emerge stronger, more resilient, kinder.
Then I remember that we’re the lucky ones. There are so many people who will find it a lot harder to bounce back once the storm passes. I have friends who have lost their jobs, friends who are working reduced hours on a reduced salary. My brother-in-law had to shut down the restaurant he had dreamed of opening since he was 19, and a good friend shut the doors of his popular neighbourhood café. Nobody knows how long this standstill will last.
And I remember that this is only the beginning. This virus is going to change us forever. I just hope it’s not a superficial, short-lived change. I hope we learn from the ‘coronapocalypse’ and change the way we treat each other and the planet.
– Andrea Sophocleous
Coronavirus is DEFEATABLE!
– Kell White
– Clara Tang
Batten down the hatches.
Tighten the belt.
Scroll through the notes in your phone.
Act on the half-thoughts in your head.
Write the next great Australian novel.
Pen the card for your friend’s wedding, from four months ago.
Send a note to your mum telling her how much you love the creamy, vegetable spiral pasta she made when you were a kid that you called ‘Spirali’ in a thick Italian accent.
Read in the afternoon.
Crack the spine of Infinite Jest.
Read Goosebumps: Escape from Camp Run-for-Your-Life, instead.
Bake a Napoleon cake with 10 layers that takes 24 hours to make.
Get to know yourself, your neighbours’ daily movements, your roomie’s quirks, your pet’s escapades, your partner’s cliché boardroom banter.
Buy a sex toy. See what happens.
Create a short film.
The short film that always gets sidelined.
Watch all of Errol Morris’ docos.
Start researching your own.
Get sidetracked and create an Instagram account of your neighbours’ daily movements.
Miss physical human interaction.
Even your friend who hugs you unnecessarily.
Pursue a business idea.
Realise you don’t have any money because you’ve been laid off or had your hours cut.
And you’re worried you can’t pay rent, pay the mortgage, or put food on the table.
Abandon business idea.
Figure out how to take advantage of the situation on the other end.
Like Putin after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Plan the podcast you’ve been telling everyone you’re going to make.
It’s this really cool idea that no one has ever thought of before.
Search the idea on Apple Podcasts.
Find out it’s already a top-charting podcast.
Think you can do a better job anyway.
Set up a makeshift studio in your closet.
Now’s the time to do what you’ve always wanted but have been too busy to.
Off you go.
– Lee Spencer
– Andrew Reeves (inspired by M. Stevens)