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On The Couch: No-name despatches mark two years

Doomscrolling... something two world wars, the black death and the Spanish Flu couldn’t give us.

Doomscrolling... something two world wars, the black death and the Spanish Flu couldn’t give us.

Published Apr 2, 2022

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Two years ago this weekend-ish, this little piece of the paper was assigned to the couch for the first time.

It was a no-name brand with no certain future, much like the rest of the world as it shut down to weather Covid.

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The couch council for history and heritage has decided these two years have been among the longest and most fraught in human history. The World Wars came in a close second, and other contenders were the Black Plague and Spanish Flu, but Covid has something none of them did.

Social bloody media.

Doomscrolling mushroomed as billions of people stuck in their homes turned to social media to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, billions of people found their lifeblood in fake news, lies, scaremongering, leeching on the fear of those early dark days.

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The world also had the White House orange thing saying it would all go away like a miracle and offering alternative “cures” like ingesting bleach and dodgy pills. Generally and loudly, as is his wont, he also disparaged some of the world’s best scientists and epidemiological experts and took advice from a virulent pillow guy and other assorted crims, skells and scoundrels. And his rapacious children and son-in-law.

It will be up to reputable historians to record the disaster that blossomed in that repugnant administration, but there is blood on many hands, much of it spread by Twitter et al.

We became mass consumers of death. People we knew and loved were claimed. If you followed news feeds, on TV or other means, those figures climbed and climbed, and there was no escape. The world had a mental meltdown.

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In our little spot, once remote access was sorted, and there were plenty of pooch provisions, the couch council settled in rather well. The only angst was who got to share the spot with mom, and once a “roster” had been agreed upon, minutes were accepted, signed and settled.

That first despatch was fairly accurate, particularly in saying the world as we knew it was gone. But there is an outstanding item on the agenda.

It said: “Also tipping our previous understanding of the world is the emergence of new heroes. Society long worshipped the lawyers, accountants, hedge-fund managers, industrialists, sport stars, models, movie and TV celebs, and politicians.

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“Doctors are still on that list, but there's an army of other folk whose contribution to our lives we have woefully underestimated and, largely, undervalued and underpaid.

“They are the nurses, the police (there are good ones), the supermarket workers, other first responders, garbage collectors, people who care for the elderly and disabled, NGOs and NPOs, animal welfare groups, cleaners, drivers and messengers, domestic workers – the list is distressingly long.”

Now, the new giants are in big tech and pharma, and the “new heroes” are where they were when it all began.

Singly, we can’t make a huge difference. But we can all do small things that add up. Tip and donate wherever you can. And remember a smile, a small kindness or a polite exchange, remote or in person, can lift a person having a bad time, even briefly.

That message is endorsed wholeheartedly by the couch’s science council.

The Independent on Saturday

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