In the context of Covid, how has your relationship to technology shifted?
COVID, STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, and TECH: What happens to Blame in cases of Need
Covid has changed its meaning to me. Back in June, in Winnipeg MB, I thought of it as a global pandemic that seemed to have missed us as its mark. I heard about the virus on the news, but often changed the channel to avoid overload or what I thought of as developing needless and unhealthy preoccupation. I made some gestures to guard against infection–but was pretty much content for life to go on as usual. We did not travel and moved around our local area less; we had a tube of hand sanitizer in the car and wore masks in crowds. But I had no mask supplies at the front door or in the ready, in the car. I had no deep sense of heavy dread.
NOW, Manitoba is a hotspot. We are told to find reasons to stay home, not reasons to go out. We hear of the province hiring security to enforce restrictions and feel more relieved than violated. It’s a super shift.
In June I wrote a paper about COVID as viral technology—our sickening resulting from overdependence on machines and human-made contrivances. I was prepared to argue it could be turned into kairotic occasion: could be seized upon as an opportunity to make decisions limiting technology in our lives and slowing our will to be first adapters. Now I feel less happy with this this stance. When we have trouble, we want a solution. In this case we want the vaccine as a high-tech solution. This, I think, is good tech.
Is it also good to have zoom options to bring people at a distance in close? To have smart phones in hand so as not to miss updates from close friends and family? I had imagined we had suffered from an abundance of tech options. Post pandemic would proffer a time of reckoning for us to decide what to wall in and out; during post recovery could reflect on and consider how much tech is useful and where to draw the line; how to make personal and direct policy decisions
For now, I’m grateful to tech and willing to acknowledge many ways it’s helping us through. Yet I feel a bit like a captive suffering from STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, who loves the captor and has learned to be a sport playing out captivity. For right now, it’s a state of exigency. We depend on technology to get through and eventually to liberate, so it doesn’t feel right or safe just now to strike a critical pose.