Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
– T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
Wake me up in two weeks. No, belay that, wake me in a month. By then it will be what it’s going to be and all the conflicting predictions will have collapsed, quantum style, into the actuality.
Millions will be dead. Or not.
Treatments will be available. Or not.
The economy will be in ruins. Or not.
Democratic systems will have reverted to authoritarianism. Or not.
If I were in charge of the pandemic response for any jurisdiction, however large or small, I’d want hourly updates on tests conducted, infections identified and inferred/presumed, and hospital beds and medical supplies used and needed. In addition to actual numbers I’d want projections of all these things under different scenarios. I’d want comparative analyses of strategies taken by different countries and the measurable outcomes of each.
And I’d want it all yesterday.
But, given my limited purview, I find myself wanting a little less information. The free flow of information is essential to an open society, but in the face of a 24/7 hyper-partisan and hyperventilating news-cycle-without-end-amen, I find myself shutting down.
I swear that in the last week I’ve learned nothing from news coverage that changed my day. That’s OK: I already have enough information to do my right thing while in our 14-day home-from-travel quarantine: Stay home, wash my hands, donate (online!) to the local food bank, exercise (at home!), stay connected (online!) to family and friends, and undertake as many (virtual!) creative projects as I can. (I think that list was supposed to include housecleaning but it fell off for lack of room. Or interest.)
So I have a message for the world’s media: By all means, carry on. Call me in a few weeks.
Maybe let’s leave it like this: When I’m ready for more, I’ll call you.