how to go viral: COVID 19

But I bet now you don’t want to. Go viral that is.

Of the many ironies amplifying the sense of unreality around global events, the friction of that rub caused by a mismatch in speeds between the old animal and the new social frames of reference of near-as-speed-of-light-as-possible instantaneity in communications looks to me to be the most resonant echo chamber for the anthroposphere.

First–in an era in which there are no firsts because everything happens at once–were the reports that the actual virus was being outpaced in the distorting mirror of the virtual virus by the spread of misinformation about it.

And then the deluge: because the distortion and speed of intelligence transfer, which we might call information about Covid 19, never let up, in either of its forms; because the news refused to be slow cooked. The viral online virus refused to be slowed. And the appetite refused to abate for news and information about it. And without let up, the flood has brought not only what is unappetising and unpalatable but also what is inedibly raw–the unedifying has been pursued by the overwhelming at such close quarters that one has been confused for the other.

The least edifying of manoeuvres–and I use the word because it has been consciously and inconscionably deployed–is the nationalist or nation-building one. We are at war with this pandemic. And united against it–much as we are said to battle cancer–we will prove our mettle. But it is global. But it is shameful still to deploy, even as metaphor, the talk of nation-building that was behind colonial expansion, that was behind global wars and behind the holocaust. Well, wasn’t that the cause for which the ‘virus’ of selfish market-driven Jewdom was sacrificed? the purity of the homeland? the fatherland?

It is bad and sad for the individual and for people, such as they are, in general, this virus–in as we might say common.

But smell the friction between the slow drowning death, the inadequacy of health systems, downgraded worldwide, and the over-adequacy of the communication systems through which each individually claims his stake in it, her agenda. The whole feelingness of symbolic exchange, the most human thing. The over-adequacy of symbolic communicability for which biological safeguards have been compromised.

The biological response, the response to the biological threat, seems positively improvised compared to the informational one.