Commentary: Living in a bubble world

Commentary: Living in a bubble world

Ian Haysom, a veteran journalist and writer, is a news consultant for CHEK. His coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.

The magic word today is “bubble.” Health officials, believing many of us still haven’t got the message on physical or social distancing, are now asking us to live in imaginary bubbles. The bigger the bubble the better, I guess.

Living in a bubble as recently as a few weeks ago used to be considered a bad thing. You were living in your own world, anti-social, a loner. Nowhere men living in nowhere lands, as The Beatles once almost sang. Maybe that’s where we are now. Nowhere Land. The past is another country. They did things differently there.

Apparently some of us didn’t get the concept of staying apart by two metres. So now Canadian health officials have adopted a New Zealand idea, asking us to imagine that we are living in a real bubble rather than a metaphorical one. Well, not totally real. But, well, you get the message.

The bubble can be an individual bubble. An individual bubble is at least two metres in diameter. Or is that radius? I should have paid attention in math. And we didn’t have metres in my day, so for clarity, a metre is exactly equivalent to 1.0936 yards or 3.38 feet so two metres is exactly, well, twice that.

But you can have family bubbles. Or, since this is 2020, bubbles for people who live together but haven’t actually sworn an official lifetime of devotion to one another. And their kids are inside the bubble, of course, and probably the dog as well, though I’m not sure about the goldfish. And, of course, your mother-in-law if she lives under the same roof.

This bubble would, obviously, have to be somewhat bigger than a metre or you’d just crush each other. But this bubble would keep a healthy two-metre distance from all the other bubbles. And if you wander outside the bubble you’d pop someone else’s bubble and then you’re all hooped.

Let’s hope we’re not forever blowing bubbles in this new reality.

I have to admit that every time I venture outside these days, I find most of my fellow walkers have kept a healthy distance. Even on smaller trails,  we throw ourselves into blackberry bushes or puddles rather than brush shoulders. Bikers yell “on your left” as they pass me and then we both veer to either side of the trail.

I also find we’re being much more civil to one another, actually saying hello as we pass each other. I know that in bigger cities this can be somewhat alarming, and a reason to call the police, but I find more and more of us are nodding and smiling to each other. Let’s hope that, at least, lasts when all this is over.

We went outside last night at 7 p.m. and banged our pots and pans on the back deck, even if we’re at least four kilometres from the nearest hospital. Many of our neighbours did it too, and some blew horns.  Not quite as loud as in the cities or near the hospital, but it was nonetheless a lovely neighbourhood moment.

We are now being asked not just to make noise every evening at 7 for health workers and those in the front lines of this virus, but the grocery workers and bus drivers and all those out there for us.

So Boris Johnson has become the latest luminary to test positive for the virus, joining Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Prince Charles, Prince Albert of Monaco, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and Idris Elba. Proving this virus does not discriminate by status, wealth or position.

Happily, most of them seem to be doing fine but it’s obvious glad-handing has been their downfall. The days of the handshake and kissing on both cheeks are over, at least for now. And no hugging. Except virtually, as we did on Skype yesterday with our granddaughter. Not quite the same, but better than nothing.

We blew kisses to her at the end of the call.  And she blew a whole bunch back at us.

They were, well, infectious. And not infectious.

Many of us will live in this bubble to help bend that curve. For as long as it takes. But can’t wait for it to burst.

Read the previous diaries here:

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 18, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 20, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 22, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 23, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 24, 2020

Ian HaysomIan Haysom

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