the art of [NOT] having an opinion #COVID19

I take it all in — #covid19 updates, stories, graphs and most importantly — information about disinformation.

I scroll through stories of disbelief, pain, and fear.

I try to get my head around the figures, models, and possible futures.

In the end, I know nothing.

I do nothing.

I have nothing to say.

During this historical time of information overload, I’m confused, misinformed, and quite frankly — disappointed with myself (both as a human being and an academic). The world order is falling apart and I have nothing meaningful to say. Tweets about my work are a useful distraction — but what value do they bring in the context of the wider crisis?

As this collective trauma unfolds, I feel guilty for just being a passive observer. Yet, I also know that my inaction is the best way forward (#stayathomestaysafe).

My world currently consists of several social media feeds and news websites. The daily routine of clicks and scrolls (e.g. Twitter, Guardian, email and so on) is both predictable and comforting. It provides an illusionary sense of control. Due to my #covid19 anxiety, I hardly ever read full articles, let alone books. My mind chooses quantity over quality. I retweet stuff, but as it stands — I have no meaningful opinions (apart from ‘stay at home’ and ‘wash your hands’).

During #covid19 infodemic, I struggle with an ongoing battle between the intense desire to have an opinion and the paralysing fear of having one.

I’m no longer sure whose opinion or strategy is meant to be the acceptable. I don’t know if we — the humanity — are heading in the right direction, and if so — when are we going to get there? I have no imagination of what our lives might look like in the post #covid19 times.

As the scrolling continues — I am privileged enough to experience it in my comfortable [and so far #covid19 free] isolation. I scroll through images of people cooking, exercising, drinking wine, and talking to other people via video-conferencing. I read well-meaning advice on how to stay mindful, embrace ‘the new normal’ or to learn a new skill (yeah, right!).

I try to take it all in an open-minded and non-judgemental way. Sometimes the glorified #stayathome social media content gives me comfort — other times, I find it extremely annoying. Still, I’m grateful for memes, funny videos and all sorts of uplifting nonsense that I can hold on to on an every-day basis.

I began this post by saying that, ‘I have nothing to say’. Well, that’s clearly not the case. My hope is that sharing this post might help me to better understand my vulnerabilities and ethical dilemmas related to discussing #covid19 crisis.

Perhaps some of you might also relate to my experience?

Finally, I should offer some tips or conclusions. This is where I could add a sentence or two about our collective experience, self-compassion, and the importance of mindfulness. After all, things will get better and healing will begin, right?

However, the truth is that I still don’t feel in the position to add anything meaningful to the #covid19 debate. I’m still learning how to comprehend the amounts of pain, injustice and trauma related to this crisis.

Perhaps, after all, I’m mastering new skills during my #covid19 isolation — the art of not having an opinion.

Dr Alicja Pawluczuk (AKA hy_stera) writes about digital humanities, feminism, and social justice → www.alicjapawluczuk.com + www.hystera.online