“The Greatest Generation” saw the greatest war. Their children saw (and protested) two “conflicts” that nobody won. I grew up doing tornado drills and preparing for Russia to launch a nuclear missile at the U.S. A Fraternity brother of mine has a piece of the Berlin Wall. Czechoslovakia doesn’t exist as one nation anymore. We’ve been at war since 2001, the longest military engagement in the history of the United States, on the heels of the most devastating terrorist attack on US soil. I remember my mom asking me, back in 1999, “Have you heard of Google?” and a friend sending me an invite to Facebook. The word “WiFi” didn’t exist when I co-founded a company to train and certify network engineers in WiFi. We’ve seen a lot, but we’ve never seen anything like the coronavirus meltdown.
Not as bad, but worse
I’ve seen dozens of comparisons to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. The pandemic of 2009 claimed multitudes more sick and orders of magnitude more dead than has coronavirus…so far. We have the luxury (that’s a poor choice of words) of looking back on H1N1, whereas we have not yet peaked in the cycle of Covid-19. But already, the economic impact of coronavirus is far, far worse, and we do not yet know the full impact on life.
Today, Sunday, March 15, in an act of hope for the near future, I registered for the Peachtree Road Race July 4. It’ll be my 17th, if it happens. But as of right now, schools are shut down, California just closed all restaurants and bars, many states have declared a state of emergency, some states have called up the National Guard. And yet last night on the streets of downtown Macon, GA, you’d never know the world was in the midst of a 21st century pandemic.
Where Were You During The Coronavirus?
Five years from now, that might be a common question, assuming this global meltdown continues. The next question might be something like, “What did you do afterward?” We don’t yet know what “afterwards” will look like. I’m working on the notion that afterwards will be in 4-6 weeks, but we don’t know, and I think that’s the thing that causes the most anxiety: the unknown. The financial markets hate uncertainty, as evidenced by the unbelievable roller coaster swings of the past 2 weeks. But people – most people – do not like uncertainty either. Most people, myself included, live in the security of the known, the habitual, the everyday, the predictable.
We’re out of our comfort zone here in the totally unpredictable, except that we do know for sure one thing about this coronavirus: it will end.
That Moment in Time
Where were you when JFK was shot? And what about when the space shuttle exploded? Where were you on 9/11/2001? There are lots of these kinds of moments in our recent memories, but we seldom take stock in those moments at the moment. Did you hoard toilet paper? Did you head to the mountains? Did you ignore it all? Did you Netflix and chill? Did you play boardgames and get to know your family again? Did you work from home? For how long?
No, there won’t be a quiz. However, it might be a good idea to think about what you’re doing now, what you’re going to do over the next “indefinite period”, and what you are having to do “out of an abundance of caution”, because we’ve never seen anything like this, and we probably won’t ever again.