Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash
It’s not enough that I'm distracted by COVID-19 news.
Just this week, I’ve spent a whopping 11 hours and 43 minutes on Twitter.
The deeper shock to my system is that my distractions - over the past 12 hours or so - have vanished.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have suspended basketball tournament play and all regular-season games in all sports.
Major League Baseball has suspended remaining spring training games - and has delayed Opening Day by at least two weeks.
As someone who’s accustomed to working from home and self-starting each day, I’m having trouble focusing on activities that will “move the needle,” if you will.
News cycles are like a mash-up of shock dramas.
Part fantasy, sci-fi, political thriller, black comedy, horror, WWE wrestling narratives, and badly-scripted reality television.
Prosperity gospel preachers are telling young people, “You’ll be fine. Older adults and sick people will die, so be a better Christian and stop worrying.”
Washington, D.C. is an unmitigated disaster.
That there’s a run on toilet paper is the coup de gras.
Everything I’ve practiced and preached the past six or seven years says that I must control what I can control.
What I can control is my response.
I can wash my hands - and my digital devices - frequently.
I can practice intelligent social distancing.
Since I have a tendency to isolate, it’s important that I don’t use my family’s health as an excuse to distance myself from everyone.
But I also need to be smart.
The idea in a pandemic is to “flatten the curve” by being smart about the people I engage with face-to-face.
I'm no expert, so don’t make your decisions based on how I’m processing my response to COVID-19.
This all becomes a math equation, really.
Thankfully, I trust Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
While I haven’t had much contact with him while he’s been in office, I’ve been friends with him and his wife Susan since the late 1980s.
He’s experienced in crisis management, having served as director of the Drug Enforcement Agency and as a Homeland Security undersecretary in the weeks and years following 9/11.
When he talks, I listen.
I know him well enough and have covered enough of his news conferences in my previous life as a broadcast journalist to know the import of what he’s not saying, as well as what he’s saying.
Ultimately, though, this all becomes a waiting game, doesn’t it?
What we do with our time without distractions says a lot about how quickly we will individually and collectively rebound from the COVID-19 outbreak long after the spread of the disease has been mitigated.
What’s one thing you will do with the time and energy you might have spent on sporting events?
Something that will improve your life?
Hit me up @tracyplaces on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
Interested in more ideas like this?
I typically post a few times a week.
Thanks for reading.