Covid-19: the unexpected revolution

by TONI URBANI

Half of the world is in lockdown under the pandemic. Pandemic is just one of the nouns that we have attached to the situation that we have been living in. However, according to the many definitions given to this phenomenon, it could also be referred to as Covid-19, a war, a restriction of personal freedom, a social phenom, an invisible enemy, a plague, a tragedy. All these definitions define though the same isotopy, the very semantic field, characterizing communication at the time of coronavirus . No wonder then that the expression “invisible enemy” was first used by the President of USA Donald Trump.

As the Italian sociologist Antonio Maturo observed, we are experiencing a triple bias here. First, a semantic bias, because we do not have a vocabulary to refer to and define the phenomenon he prefers defining “pandemic”. Second and third, an epistemological and methodological bias, because we are trying to explain something that is happening right here, right now, something that touches us firsthand.

I prefer, though, to call it an “unexpected revolution”. The unexpectedness is crucial in my opinion, because nobody could believe it until the lockdown measures became the rule. This is my personal experience, obviously, which I think it has become a common experience all over the world. The media, governments, people from different countries, from different regions, have been blaming others and making jokes all the time: when the Covid-19, though, started involving their personal lives, they realized that it was true. According to my interpretation of the phenomenon, every revolution brings about positive and negative changes which eventually impact cultures at large.

While still wandering about what will be in the future, I would like to offer an insight of what happened in the recent past especially for the elderly and all fragile people. 

At the beginning there was a widespread belief on the part of a large part of Italian society that it was just a concern for the elderly and people with weak immune systems and the prevailing approach was  “it is not about me”. In just a few weeks , also the “selfish” people had to reconsider their position. The fact was that even if young people rarely had to be put into intensive care, they could not go to work, they had to stay home, and they could not resort to hospital emergency if not for urgent needs. The first phase of the emergency, I argue, was aggressive towards the elderly and fragile people, this thing put them in solitude and anger, it showed us the rude, insensitive, cynical face of our society. A face that immediately took a big slap, and was taught a simple and clear lesson: nobody saves itself on its own alone.