There is no greater proof that we are all connected on this planet than the spread of and response to COVID-19, the novel corona virus. It seems somehow petty to consider writing about camera gear, creative struggles, even our successes when the world is dealing with this situation. So I won’t.
I must say I am astounded at the depth and breadth of the response, ranging from managing spread and recovery on a country-wide scale all the way to rearranging individual lives. Schools are closed or closing, tourism and entertainment are shut down, supplies are being hoarded, whole countries are on lock-down, job and company impacts are devastating, financial markets have crashed.
We see both cooperation and isolation, we see innovation and making-do, we see mobilization alongside frozen incapacitation. That something can so quickly disrupt the normal hum and drum of life across the planet is amazing to me. I’ve read the news stories, listened to our leaders, and prepared to hunker down. On March 13, our community was put into something of a lock-down, with many public events cancelled and facilities shuttered for three weeks. My even smaller community of photographers has taken the decision to stand down for the rest of the season. So I have lots of time to read.
As I flipped through the articles on the various blogs I follow, I was surprised by the relationship between photography and world events.
One article talked about disinfecting your camera gear.
Another talked about the impact of travel restrictions on photographers who make much of their living through photo tours.
And still others talked about the impact on the production of new cameras because plants have shut down, workers are not working and parts are not available.
Everything is affected. Because we are all connected.
The global impact, in just 3 months, is already in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. Individual families may be coping with illnesses, inability to work, inability to send kids to school, lack of daycare, low supplies. Every seemingly unimportant decision 3 months ago now has to take into account the level of contact with other people. I’ve never seen anything like it.
But it’s the overall sense of panic that is most puzzling to me – over a a disease that by many well-informed accounts is only marginally more worse than the flu. Online information sessions or call-in radio/television briefings show the extent to which people don’t seem to be aware of guidance on the subject. I’m surrounded by information and feel confident in my ability to manage my situation. And yet, people still rush out to buy 10 packages of toilet paper and wait in line for an hour to pay for it.
I’ve always believed in a higher power, although I am not religious. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, even if we don’t understand it. In some ways, this situation is a commentary on how humans have evolved. We wind ourselves up into tight balls of stress. Rather than live in cooperation with nature, we strive to own it, control it. Instead, it controls us. It reminds us regularly that Mother Nature is still the most potent parent on the planet. We get exactly what we give. And so I will be more thoughtful going forward, seeking balance and harmony with the world around me. I will not panic.