Taiwanese writer Li Ao once said “Taiwanese are scoundrels but they are lovable. Hong Kongers are craftier, Singaporeans are stupider and the mainland Chinese are more unfathomable.”
There are probably still many who believe that Singaporeans are stupider than the other three groups of ethnic Chinese.
This is because every day I am inundated with ads for products intended to help me fight COVID-19.
A supermarket chain advertises the fruits it sells as nature’s multivitamins.
A company selling mattresses claims that good sleep enhances my immunity.
A hotel sells “Cheer-up Packages” designed to lift my spirits. (It assumes I am depressed over the virus. Nothing could be further from the truth. COVID-19 can only threaten my life but fake friends, freeloaders, human parasites, double-crossers, and the negativism that exudes from them: evil, selfishness, pride – these things attack our humanity.)
Anyway, so if I check into a hotel, eat fruits and sleep on a nice mattress, the virus will leave me?
Then there are ads touting “the best” hand sanitizers, “the best” face masks, restaurants that promote their fortifying soups, well-meaning friends who flood my inbox with tons of advice (often contradictory, and almost always bloody useless).
Yes, now everyone is an expert on COVID-19.
Lots of idiots seem to take delight in catastrophsizing the outbreak.
But it’s all getting a bit much.
Information, news, misinformation, fake news, rumors, conspiracy theories (Bill Gates is responsible for the virus, no, it escaped from China’s biological warfare lab, no, it was America that planted it in China, no, it came from the Chinese eating bats) “cures” of all kinds: I mentioned here before about some retard from Iran who advised those infected to dip cotton balls in some oil and shaft them up their asses, remember? Well, the COVID-19 death toll in Iran is now 2,234! “Hold a hairdryer in one hand and in the other hand some antibacterial solution and use the hairdryer to blow the solution’s droplets into your nostrils,” advised another quack, this time from Fucktopia or some other shit country whose name I cannot remember. Then there are the stupid memes and jokes, some of which are indeed funny, but many are just plain stupid, or crude, lame and corny – indeed, they’re all getting a bit much.
The fact of the matter is that no one knows enough about COVID-19. There is no cure as yet though a vaccine may work eventually. The best advice is not from your aunt in Wollongong who has a primary school classmate from Papua New Guinea who is now the top doctor in Moldova who says “always drink hot water and you will be healed” or your uncle in Beijing whose distant relative is a doctor in Wuhan who says “it is Chinese tea that is the cure.”
The best advice is to listen to your health authorities – not social media, or messages from your relatives – and do what they tell you to do.
There are only three possible endgames. The first one already seems unlikely: that each country simultaneously halts its outbreak. The second is that the virus sweeps through the world and fizzles out in the face of growing herd immunity – but in the process, millions die. (No, I am not a prepper.)
The third, and most sensible, option is that the world plays a protracted game of “whack-a-mole” with the virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced.
Meanwhile, let’s not add to the cacophony of noise, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Let’s not sow fear and spread unverified information. As mature, educated, people with brains, let’s deal with cold, hard facts please.
But I got to say amidst all the deafening din, one company did impress the hell out of me.
For at least ten years now, I have been reading books put out by a Canadian publisher known as House of Anansi.
I just received an email from them last week that says:
Reading apart, together.
Over the past week, we have taken solace in the creative ways in which people are supporting one another during this difficult time. Our team has been discussing how we can help bring people together (without actually bringing them together).
When you purchase an ebook from houseofanansi.com, we invite you to add the name and email of a friend in the notes section and we will send them a free digital copy of the same book. This way you can remain connected through reading, despite the distance.
What a brilliant idea, House of Anansi.
Well done, indeed!