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  • Writer's pictureBecca Dzombak

corona-tine dispatch 6: silver linings plaguebook

Yes, I'm proud of that pun, and yes, I thought of the rest of this post because of it. (Mostly.)

Lots of people are trying their best to be positive, upbeat, optimistic these days (because, as I wrote in my last post, the alternative is A Downer). There are lots of Twitter threads about being gentle on yourself, adjusting to the 'new normal' (which I hope to stop using once this is done), and looking for silver linings in quarantine.

So I've compiled a list of silver linings:

1. There's temporarily less air pollution (and noise!), people can see mountains and wildlife and whatnot.

2. Guys have to wash their hands now?

3. Lots of shelter animals getting adopted, which means lots of videos of happy puppies arriving at their new homes (the content we really need).

But that's it.

I'm not saying there aren't people experiencing other good side effects. A small, privileged subset of people still have jobs, can work from home, don't have kids or other dependents, and therefore have a fair amount of free time at home. These people are sleeping in, perfecting their naturally-leavened artisan loaves, picking up a new exercise, They are doing every social media challenge that crosses their screens and, inexplicably, chain emails are a thing again? Or is this just me?

So for those people - myself included, as a childless grad student not quite yet on the job market - there are some silver linings. And essential workers and healthcare providers have their own silver linings, too. Because we're all mostly trying to be positive. There are, however, very few universal upsides to a pandemic. A slew of pleas to "stop romanticizing the pandemic" has been steadily coming out since early March. So how do we balance our innate nature to try to be optimistic without sliding into relentless positivity bordering on derangement?

We can stop pointing out all the good things about pandemic-induced quarantine, because those probably don't apply to most people. We can consider potential, perhaps too hopeful, outcomes from this experience: things like stronger advocacy for social support systems, working towards equable healthcare for all, a lasting appreciation for traditionally-undervalued members of capitalism, and required access to mail-in voting would all be great. That would require learning from our experiences which, well... we'll see.

That three-item list took me over an hour to come up with. Well, the first two were pretty quick, but it took the rest of my social distancing walk in the park to come up with number three. Lists with two things are dumb. That's not even a list, that's just two things. So: cleaner air, cleaner hands, happier puppies. Everything else is extra.

DuoLingo Owl knows how much time you spend on reddit instead of learning.

PS. For good news and a good happy(?) cry once a week, watch John Krasinski's Some Good News YouTube show.

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