I Lived My Pandemic on Medium
There is always a new voice, always a new idea. It never quiets here.
I often describe Medium as an incredibly busy intersection on the internet. A massive amount of overlapping activity happens here at once. Writers and readers are everywhere you turn — some on their daily commute, some parked with no plans of leaving, some visiting for the first time, some lingering in doorways, seated on rooftops, or clustered in conversation.
As an editor for Medium, I stand at this intersection every day.
I read countless stories in depth, and catch glimpses or jagged corners of others. One person’s idea leads me to another and another — I move from the grimy sidewalk to the shiny lamppost to the packed sea of bodies inching across the pavement. There is always a new voice, always a new idea. It never quiets here.
More people were suddenly with us, more groups clustered, more horns honking, more shouts, more tears, more warnings, more stories.
Last March, the intersection shook with alarm as though an earthquake had cut it in half. A confounding new virus was suddenly among us and there was work to be done to understand it, to contain it, to fight it — and of course, to write about it, read about it, and talk about it.
I watched as people cried and screamed and worried and wondered. I did all of those things too. Though the collective mood of the intersection dampened, the surrounding buzz did not. If anything, it multiplied. More people were suddenly with us, more groups clustered, more horns honking, more shouts, more tears, more warnings, more stories.
A fascinating pattern took hold. Each time someone came forth with critical information to share about the nature of this mysterious virus, many, many, many listened. All at once. I’d never seen the inhabitants of the intersection fall into such a lockstep. But this was different. This was a global time to separate truth from hearsay, initiate new behaviors, rely on trusted voices, and become students of expert scientists.
What happened next was everything and nothing. The world convulsed with death, the scarred heart of America broke, armies of health care workers surged forth and fell apart, and science moved faster than ever before — while millions sat still, overwhelmed and bored.
I can’t recall where I was when I first learned about the coronavirus, can’t say which aspect of the pandemic hit me the hardest, or which moment promised me the most hope. But I can tell you where I lived my pandemic: at this busy intersection. I’m here still and the layers of clamor are too. I hear sorrow, anticipation, listlessness, caution, overwhelm, and relief. I’m listening closest now for joy.