Lockdown thoughtsFriday, April 3rd, 2020 Comments
Image credit: Empty places by Simon Wilkes 2020.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how society responds to a global event such as COVID-19; one that forces changes to the everyday behaviours of millions of citizens. For many it has been full of uncertainty, not helped by vague messages on what we should and should be doing to protect ourselves and our loved ones. For some it’s been a rare time opportunity to reflect on the momentum of our lives, especially when our routines revolve endlessly around the machinery of work and the sacrifices sometimes needed to further our careers. For all of us, Lockdown has thrown a lens on our modern way of life.
Societal change is a theme in my first novel, Out of Nowhere. The events of the book concern a technological upheaval, rather than a medical or political one. One that alters an aspect of everyone’s lives for the better – transport. In the book Blink is a revolutionary form of instant travel that replaces air, road and rail – bringing the world closer together, reducing pollution and giving people back their health and time. But Blink comes at a price. Both personal for the book’s protagonist, Laura Harper, and a societal one with whole industries suddenly made redundant and obsolete over night. Laura’s father, Ray, is a former pilot who, in a few short years, lost his career and has been left feeling abandoned by technology, despite its apparent benefits to others. For many people who have found their industries inexplicably shutdown due to the pandemic, this has been the reality not fiction.
The book also looks at the role of science in this fictional technological revolution. For many in politics and the media, science is useful only when it is convenient. Science is often seen as optional, not fundamental. Which is why we find ourselves in a disturbing age of anti-science and low science literacy, especially in Western developed nations. Optically this often appears to place science at odds with society, when the opposite is true. Having world leaders who abandon science when it doesn’t suit their current narrative is dangerous at the best of times, and utterly reckless during a healthcare crisis like COVID-19.
If I’ve learned one thing during a global pandemic it’s always listen to the experts in global pandemics.