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Communicating in the Time of No Communication

Communicating in the Time of No Communication

Friday, 27 March, 2020 - 11:15
Elias Harfoush
Lebanese writer and journalist

I am one out of millions quarantined in their rooms because of the coronavirus attack on the human race. I, a traditional man when it comes to spending time on social media, would not have imagined that the day would come when it would be my only means to cross into what resembles a normal life.


Here I am, surrounded in my house by my wife and phone. This little device has become my means of production, I worry for it as I worry over my health, for it to stop working or for its battery to run out amid this crisis. The article you are reading right now, whether on our paper print or website, would not have reached you had it not been for the Microsoft company or the Windows software. The WhatsApp application on this device in my hand has become my only means to communicate with my colleagues and the outside world.


I think, in my humble analysis of the plan the coronavirus has in its attack on the human race, that it is conspiring with social media, including WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook and similar apps, to teach skeptics like me a lesson: There will come a day, and indeed it has come now, that people will not have any means of communication among them other than these platforms.


World leaders are conducting conferences and meetings through Skype and Television channels are hosting commentators using the same means. I can’t imagine what those who cannot use these means or do not have them are doing? How are they talking to their loved ones? How are they shopping and calling their doctors and pharmacists?


Don’t you agree with me? What if there was a conspiracy behind the spread of the coronavirus? Then it must be the CEOs of Microsoft and Apple and their comrades, who will leave this war the only victors? All reasons for a normal life have stopped while they remain alone in the arena, alone capable of lifting people from the isolation that has been imposed on them.


These modern technologies are not the only ones that will leave this war victorious and will be able to breach the siege imposed by the virus invasion on our daily lives. On the sidelines of this crisis that is threatening the global economy, the stocks of the largest companies and the income of millions of people, there are factories that are rushing to produce masks and ventilators that intensive care units in hospitals are in dire need of.


There are also labs and scientific research centers that are working hard to produce a vaccine for this pandemic with the prospect of millions of dollars in estimated profit if they succeed.


Of course, it could be said in response to this claim that these labs and centers are doing necessary humanitarian acts that will serve the entire human race. This is true, however, can we not say that perhaps they are making the best out of this crisis?


China has found an opportunity as well. The country that is accused of exporting this pandemic around the world, has become the country that is exporting experts and doctors to fight it. It is competing with the European Union in helping devastated European countries like Italy and Spain after the EU found itself incapable of helping them. This has led to many legitimate questions about the seriousness of solidarity and the effectiveness of the unified laws that were meant to secure minimal European solidarity.


Who would have expected two months ago that our lives will turn upside down because of the systematic violence that the coronavirus is practicing against the world in an unprecedented manner in modern human history? We could have expected it to be a foreign enemy and would have taken precautions, but now, our bodies have become our enemies. Fears of a handshake, a sneeze and a gasp for breath have become justified. The battle now needs new tools.


I imagine that coronavirus was hiding somewhere, watching us live our silly lives, our reckless ways of dealing with places, countries and beautiful things, our taking for granted the conveniences that we have. The virus then jumped out of its hiding place to remind us that these things are not to be taken for granted. Going to cafes and restaurants, walking on the street and the pavement, things that we would consider normal things to do in our daily lives, we would be deprived of in a moment. And by whom? Does it move in the air that we breathe and spread its poison from one country to another? Or does it need proximity with someone who is infected? Suspicions that resemble suspicions about its source. Is it an American or Chinese product? Who stands behind this destruction?


The day will come, hopefully soon, when we leave our rooms to enjoy the sun again, the greenery, museums, cinemas and music venues, when we return to our normal lives. Perhaps when that day comes, that what we had taken for granted is not always like that, and that we may lose them at any second for a reason that we could not have predicted. Therefore, we need to enjoy the beautiful moments, times and opportunities, and to get closer to the ones we love.


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