Covid Roulette

May 20, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Hurry, hurry, ladies and gentlemen, to spin the wheel – place your bets and let’s see what our croupier, Jacques, has in store for us! Bets are not just money – bring your whole life – your business – your job – your children’s education – your sanity! Bring it all and place those bets on the table! Let’s see what the spinning wheel can say about your life!

Red three! Too bad you bet on black 31 – oops! Lost your job! But – look there – your wife can go to work – a winner! A job with Amazon! Wear plenty of protective clothing, mask, gloves, Madam, and keep your distance from your family when you come home – a winner!

And here is your teenaged son – go ahead, boy, place your bet – let Jacques spin the wheel! You get to stay home and try to learn online – too bad about your crummy country internet – what else do you have to do with your life except to wait while that little circle on the screen turns and the You Tube video takes twice as long as it’s meant to – that’s life in the great Casino Ontario!

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first, says the plate someone once gave me. For sure, it has been as uncertain as ever any of us have known or for many of us. Life can be organized and predictable, even in these messy times; we all know people who have done it – maybe, you are among those well ordered, tidy, got that pension ready for later in life. I hope there are people not beaten up by the 21st Century but it has occurred to me that it used to cost less and be easier to live in previous decades. 

We used to be able to watch TV for free, an antenna on the roof. There were fewer channels, I guess, but was the programming better with less advertising and more humour? Less cynical?

What about us now, and our children, grown up or still young, with our/their constant contact with the rest of the world? That really worries me – to never be alone. Where is the time, the chance to ruminate, a bit like a cow, sure, chewing our mental cud, as it were? We need time to ourselves, to reflect, to imagine, when all the screens are off and the noise of voices and opinions are still and we don’t need to worry about the next abuse the handling of Covid will impose on a society.

Right – Covid regulations have left lots of us alone and not necessarily people who are constantly online: older people or those not so excited by virtual everything.

Let me put it this way: when we go to the movies – and I love going to the cinema – we watch a story – even, a concert, an opera ­– on that big screen and it satisfies us, up to a point. However, when we go to the theatre and see a live production, that presence of people on the stage, assuring us that no two performances are the same, all of us in the audience, also unpredictable: this is a very different satisfaction, more in tune with who we really are.

History demonstrates pretty clearly that our greatest successes have grown to bite the hands that invented them, as though they take on lives of their own to compete and even conflict with ours. Up next, as Stephen Hawkins warned, is Artificial Intelligence – when that crowd starts replicating itself – well, things will really be different, could be, really scary. Think we can develop an engine that will “do no harm to humans” forever? It hasn’t worked so far. We ourselves teach them to be harmful. We make weapons of inventions that were designed to help, to heal, to make our lives easier.

Yet and yet, nothing stops us from moving – I don’t necessarily call it “forward.” So-called “progress” has, for the most part, been damaging, not bettering.

The great, wide internet, big as the whole world and looking to stretch itself to the galaxies far, far away, is a poignant example of death by success. An equalizer, the true throne of democracy has become – well, what? Everything: a cesspit, purveyor of lies and harm, a tool for us to be the worst we can be, dark, cruel, intrusive, a highway for virtual but still meaningful theft.

Trying valiantly to balance the dark, are the well-meaning, the funny, optimistic, correctly informative…

Scientists and doctors emphasize the risks of an online life for children and my pet-hate poster is the one with the baby crawling to touch the keyboard, as if it is never too soon to start.

Speed is not of the essence; quality matters more: of life, of relationships, what we eat, how we love. Responsibility in leadership, not pandering to the loudest voices, shifting like the leaves in a wind, matters.

We do gamble, all the time, but that is not really the way to run the world.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.