Picking fights.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

I spent a lot of the day scrolling through what amounts to the wire service for the rest of us—Twitter. This global story of contagion, infection, testing, and treatment has so many angles, so many perspectives, and it can have so much of an emotional component that what people write (or cut, paste, or retweet) doesn’t meet much of a journalistic standard, although it may well be their truth.

It also (it seems to me) speaks volumes about how the average person has trouble understanding the math and science of epidemiology. They hear “no gatherings of more than ten people” and figure a small intimate dinner party would be “just fine.”

I’ve for the most part resisted the urge to respond on Twitter when I see a comment that is dangerously misinformed, or simply (maybe) a fear-based racial attack on “the other.” For the most part.

I think news organizations are doing a yeoman’s job of trying to explain why any size party or communal event would not be “just fine.” There are straightforward stories like the one in the Boston Globe with the lengthy, informative headline “A Boston doctor and five friends went to Miami. All six came back sick, at least four with the coronavirus”. It has the classic “well, I figured I could deal with it if I got sick” attitude that seems oblivious to the effects on the rest of the world around you. One of the best terse explanations I saw today said, in essence “Don’t operate as if your mission is to avoid getting sick…act like you are sick, and you’re trying not to (perhaps fatally) infect anyone else.”

The New York Times offers one story that would make a lot of people I know say “Well, of course you wouldn’t…” When they say Don’t Trust Memes That Promise Coronavirus Cures—but maybe that’s the kind of educational service we need right now. Don’t drink that bleach!

And then there’s an NYT article that offers hope in technological innovation while raising (for me) some questions of privacy: Can Smart Thermometers Track the Spread of the Coronavirus?

Just a little light reading (as opposed to my somewhat more painful observing of the collapse of the global markets) as we continue to follow the (fairly straightforward, for us) mandate to stay isolated, stay at home, stay away from our fellow humans for a couple of weeks. Or so. Or more. Now, let me wash my hands of all of this.