We are living in the best of times to have a pandemic

There is no doubt we are experiencing one of the most challenging times in our life. If there is one word that sums up what many of us are feeling, it’s ‘loss’, a feeling of grief. Jobs lost, businesses lost, livelihoods lost, lives lost, hopes and dreams lost, drive and motivation lost, holidays lost, loved ones lost, and most of all, the basic human need for certainty, lost.

After the initial shock of grief usually comes acceptance, giving us an opportunity to turn inwards and reflect on the situation. It’s been almost a month since many of us have been subjugated to some kind of lockdown measures. Initially a shock to the system, but it doesn’t take long to realise how lucky many of us who live in the developed and rich part of the world have it. As Martin Luther King JR. once said

Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.

While I don’t underestimate or trivialize the disruption that COVID-19 has inflicted on our lives, the stars are starting to appear, for now, at least a sprinkle of them. I hope reading this helps you find a sprinkle of stars in your life as you come to terms with this new reality.

To help you on this journey, let’s paint a scenario.

If you had a choice to live through a pandemic in 2020 or 2000 or even 2010, what would you say? I’m sure many of us would opt for 2020, and I’m here to show you why.

While the Internet has been with us for over 30 years, it is almost unrecognizable from those early days. Wind back 20 years, or even 10 years, life would have been very different living through the COVID-19 crisis. From entertainment, work, education, health, shopping, to science, there is no doubt we are living in the best of times to have a pandemic.

Entertainment

The evolution of how we now consume entertainment has been nothing short of revolutionary. In little more than a decade, streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify have become household names allowing us to access top-quality entertainment all in the comfort of our own homes, on our own devices, on our own terms.

With movie theatres deemed unessential, many have been forced to shut down. However many cinema houses are now bringing the big screen to our us, giving us the option to stream movies in the comfort and safety of our homes.

What would entertainment in our homes have looked like if we were facing this pandemic in 2000 or even 2010? DVDs? I’m sure video stores would have been deemed unessential services forcing many of us to fight over the last Frozen DVD in the local supermarket. Can you imagine having Frozen on repeat all day during this pandemic?

Shopping

While online shopping has been around for decades, the experience is much more superior to even just 10 years ago. Almost every retailer is online today and if they weren’t before the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure this crisis has been the nudge they needed to transition over.

It’s not just about retailers selling their products online. There is no doubt the online shopping experience is much more seamless, enjoyable and experiential compared to the last two decades. From AR experiences to mobile shopping to 24hr deliveries, there are lots to be counting our lucky stars for in 2020.

Click here for a walk down history’s lane, showing you what some of your favorite websites looked like 15–20 years ago.

And if browsing is your thing, we now have Instagram and Pinterest to offer much-needed ‘mindless’ inspiration during down moments.

Education

With many schools, colleges and universities now closed around the world, this does not mean an end to education. Many, if not all educational institutions are now delivering education online to students around the world. With many not being well-equipped to online learning upon entering the pandemic, many schools will be exiting the lockdown period with newfound skills and a strong foundation to deliver multimode learning beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

Wind back to 2000 and 2010, how would education have looked like during a lockdown? Printing and posting material to hundreds if not thousands of students every week?

And it’s not just young students. With MOOCs such as Coursera and Edx offering a wide range of free and low-cost courses from institutions around the world, opportunities to upskill are abounding. Whether to upskill or satisfy your curiosity or learn a new hobby, having access to these courses will see some of us come out on the other side with a new sense of confidence.

Health

With social distancing being one of the major measures used to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Telehealth is stepping-up as a key technology to deliver health in parts of the world. This comes at a time when The World Health Organization refers to telemedicine as one of the essential services in “strengthening the Health Systems Response to COVID-19”.

Australia has just recently made changes to the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) to allow for “whole of population” access to Telehealth services, including phone and video consults with GPs and psychiatrists.

Interestingly, Telehealth has been talked about for years in Australia but with little support from the government. One of the stars that is illuminating out of COVID-19 is that it is now being embraced out of necessity and most likely to be the catalyst that drives and implements the change permanently. As Yuval Noah Harari states,

Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours.

Wind back 10–20 years ago, the only way to access health would have been through a physical or phone consult with a doctor. If you are suffering from COVID-19 today, the difference between a physical visit and a Telehealth consultation could be infecting another 100 people.

Staying fit and motivated

With gyms now closed, staying motivated shouldn’t be that hard. From fitness apps to F45 and yoga classes running on Zoom, there is no excuse to come out of this heavier and less fit. A multitude of free and easy web conferencing technology that even the most technophobes of us can use have only flooded the market in the last decade. Again, imagine this pandemic in 2000 and 2010? Could you still be running your yoga and F45 classes and business? Or would it have resulted in a complete shutdown of your business?

Work

For those lucky enough to still have a job, working from home and having access to cheap and easy web conferencing tools has been a godsend to both employees and employers alike. Usually described as knowledge workers, the ability to continue earning a wage would not have been so easy and possible 10–20 years ago. Many of us can count our lucky stars if we are in this group of people. The alternative would have resulted in more job losses and much higher rates of unemployment.

Food delivery

While fast-food chains such as Pizza Hut and Dominoes were the pioneers in-home delivery, meal delivery services have come a long way in the last decade. Thanks to services such as Ubereats, Deliveroo and Doordash to just name a few, we have never been so spoilt for choice. These meal delivery platforms have only emerged and become established players in the last 3 to 4 years allowing us to continue enjoying restaurant quality meals without the need to step outside our homes. This industry has also created new low skilled jobs during a time others have been lost.

Leisure

While travel will be a no go zone for some time to come, this doesn’t stop us from discovering new adventures. From Netflix to Youtube documentaries, there are many worlds to be uncovered in the comfort of our homes.

With libraries and bookshops also shut down, e-books and online stores such as Amazon allow us to continue to access the therapeutic form of escapism books provide us with.

And if travel documentaries and reading isn’t your thing, there are millions of mind-dumbing digital content on social media platforms to keep you sane.

Staying in touch

There is no doubt one of the hardest things during the COVID-19 pandemic is being away from family and friends (for those of us lucky to have them). A pandemic 20 or even 10 years ago would have limited our interaction and communication to one-on-one phone calls and text messages.

While many of us would be missing physical hugs from loved ones, free web conferencing technology and group messages are allowing us to maintain our connections at deeper levels to previous decades. Seeing our loved ones faces through our screens or having ‘dinner zoom parties’ with friends, to sharing funny memes to family group messages, this star has got to be the brightest of the lot.

Medical Research

With a vaccine being the only way out of this pandemic, we are living in the best of times to make this a possibility. We know that finding an effective vaccine is not an easy process, however, with modern scientific research, decentralised innovation, and computational power, there is no reason to believe a vaccine won’t happen. For the first time in history, the world is working collectively to beat a common enemy.

This will prove what can be achieved when we put the world’s best minds together, supported by billions of dollars in funding. It will be a demonstration of humanity at its best.

The Internet is only part of the story

This has all been possible not because of the Internet alone but rather because of the ecosystem that supports it. The technology that supports the Internet we have grown accustomed to is a different ball game to the Internet of 10 to 20 years ago. If you are old enough to remember dial-up Internet you’ll understand how far we have come. From cable broadband, Wifi, 4G (and soon 5G), this technology has allowed us to enjoy everything that now feeds off the Internet that has become a core part of our lives.

Can you imagine being in lockdown with dial-up Internet! I rest my case, did you suddenly start to see more stars too?

The Cloud has also played a big part in where we are today, particularly in the remote working revolution.

Smartphones that now house and facilitate almost every function of our lives from entertainment, fitness apps to banking to communication are almost as important as the Internet itself. The first iPhone was launched in 2007 with apps not really taking off until after 2010. Almost everything we now do involves our phones. While many may argue it has created unhealthy habits, it is times like these that make us appreciate the positive change they have brought to our lives.

As you can now start to see, it doesn’t take long for the stars to illuminate in the midst of darkness.

--

--

--

Social scientist meets strategist and educator, trying to make the world a better place. Contact me at maysoon.elahmad@gmail.com

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Today’s Rant No. 8: Spanish Edition

Severance isn’t Sci-Fi. It is capitalism as is

Scarlet Fever: Saving Scarlet or Spinning Scarlet?

Why I Gave My Apartment to an ICU Doctor

A photograph of NYC skyline with coronavirus particles in the background.

Curse of Cassandra: Ophelia and the Moon in the Water

Anatomy of an Edgelord

12 basic shoes that all women need

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Maysoon El-Ahmad

Maysoon El-Ahmad

Social scientist meets strategist and educator, trying to make the world a better place. Contact me at maysoon.elahmad@gmail.com

More from Medium

Don’t just survive, thrive!

What REALLY Happens to Your Recycling

Making a Difference One Tree at a Time!