I first learnt of the spread of the coronavirus through the media, which is of course the logical place that the majority of us go to discover what is taking place in our world. Except of course when it isn’t and is instead a putrid quagmire of self-serving fear-mongers, inflating issues to pump us full of anxiety and squeeze us for our attention and money.
Which, in case you’ve been a bit preoccupied, is the current order of the day. On some of the cheaper and dirtier rags *coughdailymailcoughcoughheraldsun*, the most common headline screams “KILLER VIRUS!”. Now, I will not argue that this virus has taken many lives and therefore in a literal context fits the label killer virus, but I will argue that beating people over the head with this terminology doesn’t aid in creating an atmosphere of rational and informed awareness, but instead induces an environment of all-out panic wherein morons end up squabbling over rolls of toilet paper.
And context is vital here. For the majority of us, contracting COVID is not a death sentence. It’s more of a hibernate-in-your-bed-and-get-your-partner-to-bring-you-food sentence. For the vulnerable in our communities, those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, it is a very real threat, which is why I’m currently shacked up with my wife instead of cuddling up to her Oma. This context allows us to treat this situation with the seriousness it deserves without succumbing to the savagery and insanity of what has been the equivalent of Mad Max set in supermarket aisles with shopping trolleys and the last of the good pasta.
The second problem with the media is that it is not always concerned with a little thing commonly referred to as “facts”. Sensationalist media has resulted in widespread xenophobia to anyone of Asian ancestry, regardless of if the person subject to the abuse has even been to China, much less Wuhan, in their lives. The media has fuelled this with a series of outlandish tales that range from the virus being bred in Chinese labs to “reports” of the source of the virus being from a Chinese bat soup. Some papers have even had the gall to state that the rapid rise of cases in Italy was due to Chinese big pharma deliberately seeding infected people into Europe. Others believe the situation gives them the right to make racist puns, such as “Chinese Virus: PANDAmonium”.
I wish I was kidding:
As idiocy tends to breed idiocy, the eventual outcome has been a backlash at innocent Asian people and moronic moves such as parents refusing to let Asian doctors treat their children. The list goes on, but it gets more depressive as it does, so let’s call it there.
While we are drowning in this fetid sea of media, there is a life raft that I believe we can all cling onto: More media! I should be clearer: Different media!
I’m referring to the best kind of media, good media, which is of course books, movies, television, podcasts, and, technically a repetition on the theme of books, but I like them and am even a member of a club honouring them, and this is my blog not yours so I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway, audiobooks.
Using media to combat media: sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, baby.
Here is a current list of the good media that is being digested in our home to help drown out all the bad media:
Each morning after completing yoga and while enjoying a bowl of overnight oats, I watch 15 minutes of an episode of HBO’s Watchmen. I then commute to work (two strides from the couch to the dining table) and launch into my work day. If the work I’m doing can be done with half an ear, I listen to podcasts. Currently, I oscillate between No Such Thing as a Fish, 99% Invisible, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Anthropocene Reviewed, and Comedy Bang Bang. And, as an always safe back up, relistening to The Ricky Gervais Show, which, beyond being hilariously funny, has the added benefit of having been recorded almost twenty years ago and so contains no mention of the coronavirus in case you’re in need of a palate cleanser.
Lunch sees me dropping back into another 15-20 minutes of Watchmen (in the bedroom or on the balcony to ensure the blood-curdling sounds of my mastication stays well away from the delicate ears of my wife).
After our stroll, Alex and I sit down to a tasty dinner and an episode of BBC’s Sherlock, not to be confused with CBS’s Elementary, which is also very good. It’s hard to go wrong with a genius British consulting detective. This is approximately my fourth or fifth viewing of Sherlock and it only gets better with each watch. I would recommend it to anyone, up to and including Alex’s aforementioned Oma.
While drawing after dinner, I plug my headphones back in and get an audiobook rolling. At the moment, I am listening to Stephen King’s The Shining. I am enjoying it, but realised too late that it may not have been the most appropriate choice given my current voluntary incarceration and its themes of isolation and a man’s deterioration into madness (allworkandnoplaymakesjonnyadullboy). I swear not to go mad and chase Alex with an axe. Where would I even get an axe, all the stores are closed.
My wife spends this time also enjoying a book, but in the more traditional sense, with her eyes. I would tell you what she is currently reading, but she eats her way through books so fast that it’s impossible to say. If reading books were a sport, she’d be an olympic athlete. If she is a bookworm then she is one of those monstrous sand worms from Frank Herbert’s Dune (for those of you playing at home, Dune was one of The Audiobook Club’s most recent reads. Or, to be more accurate, listens).
While holed up indoors keeping clear of COVID, the vulnerable, and Omas, I whole-heartedly prescribe a healthy course of good media while steering mostly clear of bad media. And if you must wade into that bog of eternal stench, try to stick to official sources and journalists you can trust, who make it their business to monger truth and not fear.
On Monday: Shopping.
(And because today’s post was a bit of a heavy one, here’s a picture of some ducks I took the other day, because, you know, who doesn’t like ducks. Have a great weekend, everyone.)