Before the flagellation begins, rest assured I'm keeping up with the news and numbers. And every time I read "over X number have died so far," I lament over how rounding up (or down) those digits dehumanizes the deaths, treating people as mere numbers who will eventually be buried communally.
Pandemics, meaning epidemics that have successfully taken over different countries and continents, aren't as frequent as planet Earth would've fancied. When they do spread, like an unseen, gentle breeze, many die while others panic — a thin slice rejoices over what they like to call a "natural cleansing." People can be heartless, let's not act appalled.
A staggering difference I couldn't help but notice - and I'm not the only one - between pandemics these days and decades ago is the widespread ease of living during the novel coronavirus outbreak. For a noticeable chunk of people, the only thing missing in their daily lives is going out and mingling. For the less noticed part (aka the poor), that same absent bit was what got them money to survive. But let's go back to the former group, which is more or less the majority.
For such a global misfortune, 2020 isn't the worst year to experience it.
Staying in nowadays without the need to go out as one would normally do is much easier than in previous decades. In the 1975 Lebanese civil war, which lasted 15 years, people in Lebanon barely had access to regular landlines. Quarantines took the shape of bunkers filled with displaced families and individuals who had lost their homes to bombs or looters. Lack of communication led many to lose contact with their loved ones.
With the incredible advancement of technology, surviving while isolated at home is, in general, simpler now.
Let's take grocery shopping as a menial example. Large supermarkets and modish grocery stores have one purpose - maybe two, if we consider making and increasing profit as one goal - and that is to offer the fastest and highest quality services at the comfort of their customers. The latter are home, as advised by their government, and would prefer to minimize contact with others. Social distancing along with regular hand washing are the best measures to take in the time of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Via apps and websites, one can order their week's worth of food and items without even seeing an unfamiliar face. Contactless deliveries and cashless payments have paved the path for such an option to be so extensively attainable.
And this applies to other online shopping activities and daily, or even weekly, chores.
Another example is communication. With internet accessibility present in almost every corner of the world, checking on your friends, family members, colleagues, or anyone else is at reach — as long as your phone's battery is fully charged. Video calls are draining, both mentally and "technologically."
Entertainment, the dear companion we can't and don't want to go without, is the last case in point I'll be mentioning. Thanks to streaming services, online courses, social media platforms, and whatnot, being a hard-to-budge couch potato is now an option for all.
Previous pandemics rarely saw #StayAtHome campaigns, mainly due to a lack of instantaneous communication between countries. Though social distancing and curve flattening have been documented in U.S. history - during the 1918 Spanish flu, for example - there is no trace of a past global act of the sort. If anything, there isn't a source to prove the latter; not one I can confidently provide you with, at least.
With TV sets not invented before 1927 and the internet no earlier than 1983, breaking news had no highway but radios and newspapers. These two media were, at the time, confined to two groups of people: the rich and the educated — oftentimes interchangeable due to wealth.
During this aesthetically pleasing twin-digit year, the impoverished and the elite have equal chances of learning about a pandemic. This ultimately offers the former the chance to remain safe without being the last to know and the first to die. Technology is also a crucial element that's available to most, if not all, even if we're just talking about phones and mobile internet, which have become a necessity now.
In general, surviving a pandemic has become easier, if I may say.