The pandemic is the medium

When it started, I thought the interruption would be short. Life would revert. We’d get back to the headlong insanity that we called normal.

A year has passed, and that once-vivid world is just another memory. Like university.

Black and White image of Marshall McLuhan in front of TV screens
Marshall McLuhan

Like that summer vacation, when you couldn’t wait to go back next year. Like Humphrey Bogart saying “we’ll always have Paris”.

Remember the 20th century? The wars: First, Second, Korean, Vietnam? The Great Depression? TV shows, everybody watching at the same time: Ed Sullivan, Bonanza, Star Trek? The Moon Landing? The  Whole Earth Catalog? Remember Marshall McLuhan?

Marshall McLuhan said that our so-called reality was all going to transform itself, turn into something else, transmogrify. Everything was going to be different, but we didn’t know how or what.

“We don’t  know who discovered water”, he said, “but we know it wasn’t a fish.” That was us. Fishy. Swimming around in a media sea, trying to see what was in the sea. But not seeing the sea. “The medium is the message”, he said. “That’s cool”, we thought. “Wonder what he means?” Fish.

What would McLuhan say today? There’s plenty to think about. Facebook, Twitter. QAnon.  Shopping on Amazon. Cell phones. Video games. Trump.

But then I tell myself, sternly: “Ron, don’t be a fish!”

The Pandemic is the sea. The Pandemic is the medium that’s  transforming us. It’s turning our world into something else, but we don’t know what it will be. And what it used to be, it will never be again.

Am I scared? Maybe not. What we’ve been through wasn’t all that great.

And now, I’m hearing a President say that everyone should be vaccinated fairly and equally. That we are all responsible for each others health. That the economy can’t afford poverty. That white supremacy cannot be tolerated.  That every child should be in a safe, well-ventilated school.

If the Pandemic is the medium, is that the message?