For much of the pandemic I have approached it with a spirit of optimism. I was impressed by the spirit of cooperation and hoped that we would develop a friendlier, less self-centred a society. I even began to believe that the temporary effects on climate change could be sustained into the future.
This was achieved while countries across the world wrestled with the most complex situation that any of the present governments had faced. This was something that strained public resources, interrupted education, brought businesses to the brink of bankruptcy, stretched science to the limits and could potentially decimate countries for years to come.
On top of the complexity of the situation, each country had its own individual issues. Some countries were small and authoritarian while others were large and managed by consent.
Some had easily controlled borders whilst other borders were long and porous. Some countries even had leaders that didn’t believe the pandemic existed or that vodka and saunas were the answer.
Into this complex mix entered the modern information portals. I use the world information advisedly, as much was misinformation rather than information.
From the initial cooperative approach the public started to resort to type. Suddenly individual needs overrode the needs of the masses. Suddenly data was no longer as important as a Twitter sound bite.
Pandemic cases, deaths and recoveries were treated in the same way as the Eurovision Song Contest except that people were deciding the result in the half time interval.
Opinions, whether in the street, on the Internet or in the press, took on the same lack of logic or understanding of the issues as one used to get in bars late at night. The only real difference was that potentially sober people replaced the drunk.
No better example of refusal to understand the data and the logic was the idea of letting the youngest children return to school first and potentially very soon.
For a long time it has been known that the first few years are critical to a child’s development. It has also been shown that children in poorer backgrounds do just as well at school but fall behind in the long holidays. It is also known that this age group is one of the lowest risk groups.
However, the idea has been put forward that these children can catch up later. This is despite studies proving this not the case. The matter is made worse by teachers who know these facts opposing returning.
No one pretends that adapting schools will be easy, but it is no harder than the adaptations that businesses and other sectors have to make. At least teachers have a job to return to unlike many in the private sector.
So don’t expect a major improvement once the virus is conquered. Those who create the vaccine will still want to hang on to it to maximise profits, government handling of the pandemic will be used by oppositions and unions to score points with the public, and leaders will all claim victory over the pandemic so as to boost their election chances.
But saddest of all, the general public will resort to type with virtue signalling by clapping key workers for a couple of minutes once a week whilst concentrating on their own immediate needs.
My one source of hope for the future has been the sparks of entrepreneurship shown by those creative people that don’t follow the masses or spend all day of Facebook and Twitter.
Digging beneath the self-centred, points scoring, selfishness there are plenty of real people trying still to do good. Only this week I saw how someone had adapted elevator controls to be foot pedals rather than buttons pushed with hands.
As I said at the beginning, true character will out. Those that look out for only number one will still be there, those that politicise everything at every opportunity will also be there, those whose sole knowledge comes from Facebook or Twitter will still be there, but so will the entrepreneurs who solve real problems still be there.