Five ways we know society has moved on from Covid-19
Some caveats must precede this squib of an article, so that you know I am not on the side of ‘the baddies’:
Russia has invaded Ukraine
Russia is the aggressor
I hate war and violence
I sympathise with the Ukrainians and all the innocent people of different nationalities who will be hurt by the violence, sanctions and economic hardship that accompany war
Commenting on propaganda and the shifting public mood do not trivialise war/pandemics and suffering
I have few opinions on Ukraine, other than those which are conveyed upon me by the media and commentators. They pretend to know more than me, but I am not sure they always do.
In some ways, not understanding the history and geopolitical background to the conflict offers the opportunity to be more finely attuned to the maelstrom of propaganda which accompanies war, and the flotsam of peculiar details that so quickly floated to the headlines. For example, the mythic hero stories of the ‘Ghost of Kyiv’ or the ‘13 signal guards of Snake Island’ were jarringly early and obviously confected. New and traditional media used misattributed video and photo footage, i.e. fake news. The Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter account is keeping up a stream of slick and emotionally driven news. Their recent video calling for a no fly zone could almost be a Hollywood film trailer.
Propaganda stimulates deep and powerful parts of our psyche, driving tribalism, jingoism, and emotionalism. And that affects our ability to reason. It becomes difficult to ask questions. There are even social consequences if you fail to show the correct levels of concern. The tsunami of media coverage, the day to day conversations we have, and the brute as well as subtle closure of dissent create a feedback loop. It becomes hard to see you are in the middle of something new, and that you left something else behind.
The speed with which our focus moved from Covid to the war in Ukraine is dizzying.
Covid may yet mutate and present further danger to the world. We will live in a state of détente with the virus long term, maybe even forever. But as others have said before me, societies determine the end of a pandemic, not science, nor public health officials. People tire and determine to live normally again.
How do we know that society has moved on from Covid? Here are five signs:
The face mask and NHS rainbow profile photos and social media emojis that populate social media have been replaced en masse by the Ukrainian flag. Neither can stop a virus or world leader in their tracks, but they do signal support, and even a tribal belonging. It is normal in a time of emergency to ‘rally round the flag’. We have a new emergency and new flag, literally.
One UK couple have gone further and painted their house in the colours of the Ukrainian flag to demonstrate their support.
Rewind two years and people were painting rainbow murals to demonstrate support for the NHS around the country, including this home in Wales.