MD's Soapbox — COVID-19: Remember the Human

Discussion in 'News and Announcements' started by md_5, Mar 20, 2020.

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  1. md_5

    Administrator Developer

    If your recent experience has been anything like mine, it has probably been filled with a frenzy of COVID-19 news, toilet paper shortages, and an inbox full of companies promising to help you with their products in these uncertain times. I cannot communicate anything which governments and experts have not already, nor is it appropriate/necessary for me to let you know we still exist (not that I have anything to sell you). And no, you cannot have my toilet paper either. Instead I thought I might use this opportunity and platform to communicate a message which although not revolutionary is a far cry from almost everything else I have encountered recently. Those of you who have been with me since the beginning (nearly a decade ago!) might recall a predilection for long form content, and to either your disdain or delight this post marks a brief return to that: MD's soapbox if you will.

    Although I have had the great pleasure of meeting hundreds of you in person, the reality is that most of us only know each other through our online interactions. The situation which we are all facing right now is not confined to, or indeed even a product of these interactions. As such in writing this post, I wanted to try and break through this virtual barrier that divides us and address you all at a level that, at least on this platform, is not the norm. In doing so I recalled the phrase ‘Remember the Human’. In another time and place this phrase might be one of chastise — a reminder to all be civil to each other — but today I instead use it thematically, as a guide for what I am to write next, and I hope as a guide to all of you dealing with this situation, whether online here or back in the ‘real world’.

    On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.’ Whilst I must confess that I am not in fact a dog, the comic nevertheless again illustrates the point that online we do not, and cannot engage with each other to the same extent that we do elsewhere. To some reading this post I am just a guy with an orange avatar and bright red tag that says ‘Administrator’. To others I am the guy that ‘makes Spigot’. To most of you I am ‘md_5’, the guy that does/has the previous things. To my closer online friends (and those who have presumptuously scrutinised my Twitter) I am ‘Michael’, a university student that runs a lot. But very few would be able to (legitimately) say much more about me than that. The same is true between the vast majority of the 750,000+ people on this website. We are known to each other not by who we are, but simply by what we do: X moderator, Y plugin developer, Z server owner, and so on — it is these roles that shape the bulk of our interactions. To be clear there is nothing inherently wrong with this — it is largely inevitable, and probably preferred by some. I make it my central point however because now more than ever it is prudent to look past these roles and to take the time to be cognisant, but more importantly supportive, of the unique situations being faced by each and every one of us. We are fortunate enough to be part of an incredibly global community and with this comes a vast array of experiences from countries that are all at different stages of this crisis.

    I said that this was my soapbox, so it is only proper that I start this conversation with my own experience. If nothing else there is perhaps some satisfaction to be gained in venting to as many different people as possible. Perhaps even the relative anonymity which I have just lambasted makes it easier to do so.

    To be completely honest I am not scared of the Coronavirus. This is not a slight on anyone who is, and more importantly it is not meant to be disrespectful towards those who have been directly affected by it. It is simply my personal view of the situation. What I am scared about, or more accurately, worried about, is the effect on society. When I say this I don’t mean the lack of toilet paper or ridiculous hoarding — I have no doubt that will soon abate — but rather the uncertainty of the quarantine (aka sparkling isolation) that is sweeping across sectors in Australia, and no doubt the entire rest of the world.

    I mentioned before that I was a university student. As a general rule I am all about balance in life and university is a part of that balance. It is at least as important to me as Spigot, which is to say that it is a large part of my life. Things first started to change for me last Thursday when my faculty, notorious for not recording classes, capitulated and started recording them for later viewing. Class attendance was still business as usual on the Friday (near 100%), but by Monday attendance had dropped to 50–60%. That evening we were told that the entire university (> 50,000 students) would be essentially entirely online in two weeks. By the next day (Tuesday) my subjects had already started to commit to online teaching and take-home exams. It is/was only week 3 of semester and it seemed to have been written off already, never to be the same. That afternoon we were then told that the date had been moved up and Friday was to be the last day of classes. After just 3 weeks back, Thursday and Friday were to be the last ‘normal’ classes till late at least late July.

    If I were to describe my own reaction to this news, I would simply use the word ‘upset’. Not necessarily upset at any individual change (for they can each be overcome to some degree), but upset at the rapid and abrupt change to what is an important part of my life and an important part of the lives of many many others — both my friends and classmates, and also the millions in similar situations around the world.

    Today was my last day of normal university classes for the foreseeable future. I use the word normal although really it was anything but. Upon walking into the building, I was greeted by cleaners constantly wiping down every surface with disinfectant and signs on every lecture theatre door telling us to sit 1.5 metres apart (though this would not be an issue however as classes that had 60 people a week ago were now down to 15). Now having now gotten through this challenging week, I am however particularly grateful to my classmates and lecturers who stayed till the very end, and those friends who I have already talked to about the situation we all now face.

    This is of course not the only change going on. There are small changes to life as well like a renewed focus on handwashing and changes to my running routine, another important aspect of my life. I chose however to share this particular vignette not just because of its recency and importance to me, but also because whether you love it or hate it, education and disruption thereof is a common thread that links or will link many of us together.

    Although perhaps useful as a side effect, I must also stress that I felt the need to write and share this post not because I felt I had to write about what is happening to me (although if in replying you do wish to do that it is ok, nay, encouraged) but because I wanted to provide a start to this dialog in the theme of Remember the Human (in this case me). I hope that by sharing what is at least on some level a personal experience, others will do the same.

    To bring my part of the story so far to an end, I conclude with the words of Bear Grylls: ‘Improvise. Adapt. Overcome’. There are without a doubt many challenges still to come. I will be doing my best to adapt to and overcome them, and I wish each and every one of you the best and success in doing the same.

    To link back to the overall theme and reiterate one final time: please, Remember the Human. Behind each online account and persona there is a real person with a real and unique situation. Unique does not mean alone. Talk, share, and discuss what is going on — now more than ever. I particularly encourage you to do it in this thread which I am leaving open for this purpose, but also feel free to have a chat or reach out to me personally on Twitter.

    ~Michael (md_5)


    Based on my original tweet, this post has taken a rather long time to write (the draft is now three pages long). I am not sure I went in precisely the direction I set out to originally, but I do thank you for reading this far and hope you will forgive me for any errors. If you have any comments or feedback on my part of the post (love it, hate it, get off the stage, etc) I would be more than happy to hear them either here or on Twitter. Thanks!


    Thread Rules
    This thread is for [SERIOUS] discussion regarding the subjects discussed within the post. I ask that you please keep it free of jokes, memes, and unrelated discussion. In particular sharing news which affects you personally is OK, but at this time it is not necessary to share general information, speculation, or predictions on SARS-CoV-2.
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  2. First very well said MD_5! My lessons are also all online. Luckily most excersises are meant to be made at home so there isn't for me a huge difference. But what for me changed is that I can't go to the riding school to ride horses and I see the numbers go up on my minecraft server which I also now spend more time on. It is a situation you never hope to get in. As a horse rider most compitition in the coming weeks are cancelled.

    I hope every stays healthy, but nobody can tell how long this takes. We have to patience.
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  3. As this whole situation unfolds, the online communities we're a part of, and for many of us - the ones we manage and have cultivated - will become far more significant in people's lives when they have no other way to interact socially. My hope is that within this time, our servers, communities, forums, would all come together and be supportive of each other and I think it's important for us to encourage this discussion not only here, but for each of us that have our own community of people who play our servers to really make sure we support each other through this.

    I am not worried about the virus itself either - but more so on the impact it's already having on many people's mental health, with the anxiety from the uncertainty of what's next.
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  4. MiniDigger



    while I am not in uni anymore, situation at work is similar. My team lead and most other team members committed to stay in office as long as possible, but ppl with "company critical skills" (including me) where stopped from working from office starting Wednesday. Some other colleges still come into office, but I expect that monday the whole campus (6k ppl) will be empty.
    We try to hold as many meetings as possible via video calls, sometimes we just leave to running afterwards to just chat while working, as we would do in office. But today is day 3 of isolation (well, I still met friends of usual, but sitting >12 hours a day alone sure has left its mark already) and god knows how long we will have to do this.

    I also kinda fear on what this is gonna do to my company. not business wise, we are an insurance, we will be fine, but more about the work mentality. they might see that homeoffice works great and start closing offices, since thats a great way to save costs.
    They could just have "jumper" places, where you just put your laptop in a docking station, instead of having your own office, and halfing office spaces by sending ppl home 50% of the time. stuff like this could impact my life not just for weeks but years.

    So I share the same fear, not the fear of the virus, but of the impact on society.

    I am not sure if remembering the human behind the screen solves these issues tho. I am already in close contact with a few friends over the internet who I only see in person like once a year. They can never be as close friends as my friends here in this city, which I could see every day I need to see them. We are just not at a point yet where society can life an online only life. It will just lead to even more mental health issues, which we are not yet able to properly handle as a society.

    But we can at least try. the IRC community is a wonderful place and everybody is welcome to just chat about whatever. While we are all unique humans, we are all in the same situation of having to deal with being alone and in isolation for an extended period of time. Talking to ppl absolutely helps. And @electronicboy and others nagging me for my bad english is still the only reason I was eventually able to properly speak english and stop failing my english classes :D

    Take care guys.
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  5. Pretty well said, Michael. Society is being radically transformed right now and it's happening very quickly as well. My community college has shut its doors for approximately a month (April 30), and we're going to be doing everything online. I'm not sure how that's going to work for one of my classes, but we'll have to see how it goes.

    For anyone else in the U.S., I'm sure you've heard about certain states and cities restricting business and movement. Is that concerning to you, that they can just flip a switch so quickly and shut everything down? It certainly is to me...
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  6. It baffles me that in our current era of widespread internet access some people still don't understand the concept that everyone you meet online is an actual human being. Well said md_5, please, Remember the Human.
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  7. drives_a_ford


    I work at a university.
    And starting this Monday everything went online.

    That's all fine and dandy, I can do most of my research from home (although I prefer not to - I don't have the discipline).
    But what I've found really difficult is the teaching part. I supervise physics labs to the students. How am I to do that if nobody is able to come to the lab? All our equipment as well as software is in the lab.
    Nobody really knows. The best we can do for now is do the experiments ourselves and just let the students play with the data. It's better than nothing, but not as good as the real thing.

    But of course, the university's overall policy is that the classes are not cancelled but rather administered remotely. So now we're effectively teaching less to the students because of this pandemic.

    Not to mention they've cancelled all the 'communal' activities. I generally enjoy playing volleyball 4-6 times a week. But now, that's not possible. I also sing in a male choir at the university. Again, not possible anymore.

    The sad life of a me, I suppose.

    I'm sure there's plenty of other people who've got it far worse than me. I'm just describing my specific situation.
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  8. I always feel bad how news of today gives wrong and misleading information just to gain more views from dumb people...
    Like, do they really think no one will become sick from covid-19??
    being delusional about death rate against unverified data and not show recover rates must be the bait of 2020
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  9. It has been an interesting ride since January, where I tried to inform those around me about slowly taking precautions and preparing for the upcoming global changes, but as with many things in life they just judge you and give you this look like you're a crazy prepper. Once February came around the corner and I've slowly made sure my pantry was stocked for Spring time, and I've started to see the changes in other countries take extreme turns. It was rather scary to see how within actually just weeks, not months, complete countries could switch from what we'd say would be our normal life, to what it was then. But here in the Netherlands the attitude was still, including a politician who recently stepped down after collapsing on live tv after working 24/7 non-stop, that it wouldn't jump to Europe, or that we're prepared enough and don't have to worry as a nation. And I was feeling like I was the crazy one for saying: When I go grocery shopping, I already keep my distance, and I just get a couple more canned things of food and some drinks that will last, just a few things that don't need to remain in a fridge. The moment our prime minister announced on tv we have a confirmed corona case, and social media mentioned the hoarding of toilet paper in Japan and a couple of other countries: the country went crazy. I really wish I knew why common sense just gets thrown out the window. I am rather confident if social media would be all about hoarding canned sardines, we would have sold out; in fact, the shelves in the stores here have loads of canned foods, soups, and sardines. The army would welcome it all during a war.

    Thankfully the news from our prime minister is all about humanity as well. Showing that it's those who keep working that we should praise, that those who are there for eachother, are the ones that will help eachother get through these times. And that despite drastic measures it's the human aspect that helps us survive staying at home. That it's not all about compromise, or kids being angry they have to stay home BUT have to do homework or online classes, instead of playing Fortnite or Minecraft. But that they can spend time as a family, and they can use tech or just an old phone to contact their neighbours or elderly, etc. I hope it becomes just as trending as hoarding toilet paper. Because no common sense and also being selfish, that's fun for a week.

    About my own life though, I am inside a lot, I am isolated already, and this pushes depression a step further. I am there online, trying to be there for our communities etc. But the attitude of many online are not helping. It honestly is a struggle. My mother and sister inquire how I am doing, but we've had a rough year where I lost my father in 2019, and have now an older brother that's ruining our lives. Fighting depression when the door's now locked, social distance is a thing, and everybody is all about themselves and the online abuse never stops.. Corona Depression will be a thing, I am confident. No amount of hoarded toilet paper by others, or a box with canned goods isn't going to fix that. And while it's nice to hear from others online, the topic is usually the same, hi how are you, or really? why don't you share with me everything that's going on with you. Reliving negative stuff instead of 'just hangin' out', is not helping.

    So there's a darker side to it, and I see quite a few developers on this site struggling with depression, I hope during these times that the negative nancies that rate 1 star as soon as they feel they didnt' get what they want, or that those who swear and target developers for whatever reason, will take a step back and use more than two bad words, to provide normal constructive feedback; try using a sentence, and maybe only if it's really needed. And that they maybe try to go to those developers who they're happy with and reach out saying they really appreciate all their hard work. Some nice words can go a long way.

    Anyway, these changes in the world, it's scary how quickly it affects continents, culture, lifestyle, behavior. Maybe a healthy reminder that what we have can be taken away within weeks.

    Oh, and if you don't care much about this virus, and think it's not a big deal, at least be considerate of those around you. There are enough 20 to 50 year olds in the hospital as well, with complications or respiratory issues. The smaller % that ends up on IC, etc. Let's not help raise these numbers. If you like feeling good, imagine how someone else wouldn't mind not feeling bad because of you. Thanks.

    Disclaimer: I honestly just woke up, I rolled out of bed reading md_5's post on the iPhone, sat down and wrote this. I did not read it twice. It's probably full of mistakes, or maybe .. i should rewrite a couple of things to better express what i mean. But, I have to go take care of my mother who's alone and stuck to her bed. I might feel isolated, she feels truly lonely without the Internet, people, and the freedom of moving around. That it's tough to see her like this, or not be able to give her a hug or comforting touch on the arm. No words. Anyway, if I wrote something in a way that is wrong, or offended someone, just shrug and go to the next post. For my own sanity I am not going to read any further replies to this thread. I just felt like I wanted to share a response and share an experience, and maybe share an opinion. I don't want to argue.
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  10. Im very sad about what the news gives very misleading information (as @xknat said)
    This situation its changing the world, in some cases in a good way (for example, the world pollution has decreased a lot and no one is talking about that in the news) or for example, in China (yesterday) they celebrated that there was no case on that specific day... and more, more, and more...

    I think that we should be at our homes and just get out from it to get food or go to the pharmacy, just doing this, we can avoid more infections.
    Having said that, please take care.
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  11. I have always liked this one, I wish more people heard this line and considered how they react to everything in their lives, I hope that this Covid-19 dissipates soon, the death toll created by it is heartbreaking.

    Thanks for making this post Michael, the anonymity behind the core of Minecraft can at times make people forget there's a human on the other end, humans from all walks of life, all around the planet and all having to deal with different situations in their lives.

    Be nice to everyone!
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  12. To the SpigotMC community, I wish you all to be cautious and to be safe with making sure you are cleaning your hands and utilizing hand sanitizes.

    I am blessed to be alive and to be speaking to the community, as I was in the hospital for two days being treated early and fortunately didn't have a critical situation where the fluid would start progressing within my lungs.
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  13. Stay safe guys, I'm still sick and had to miss out on a variety of opportunities due to this new virus.
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  14. 5 days after the pandemic was declared, a message was sent to all my exchange student friend telling them to return back to their country of origin as soon as the 24th of March and that the exchange program is terminated. Afterwards, everyone was shocked, upset and disappointed. The coronavirus has brought disastrous effects towards every nation and changed the way we live our life. I think it's best to take the positive side of what's been happening lately. For me, this experience has taught me a lesson about life that I'll never forget, because it's a part of me now.
  15. nossr50

    Patron ⭐⭐⭐

    Here in Oregon the virus is spreading so it's probably a matter of time until I get it o_O
  16. foncused

    Moderator Patron

    My situation has been less dramatic, but busy nonetheless. I normally work at home part of the week, but have now been at home for nearly 2 weeks. Starting as a "Pandemic Test Day" all of IT was ordered to stay home for a day and work remotely so we could monitor the company's VPN utilization performance along with several other metrics. Two days later our governor made the speech about "2 confirmed cases" in my state and as a result our CEO mandated remote work as a company-wide initiative. I have been told this may persist for the next 6 weeks.

    In this time I have been tirelessly creating network monitoring solutions (including a JavaScript polling/graphing engine built from scratch) so we can accurately measure statistics (VPN user counts, conference bridge/session data, CPU core performance of network infrastructure, the list goes on). I have been so busy and distracted with work that I went a bit un-phased with the governor closing down all restaurants, bars, and other stores statewide.

    Perhaps more dramatic are these effects on society in general (as mentioned by @md_5 above). Admittedly I have not been to the store since this all started, but I have obviously seen the pictures and heard the complaints about empty shelves (and yes, the lack of abundant toilet paper). It seems evident to me that much of the panic is being caused by a cascading effect based in fear of available supply (MSM being a catalyst) - products are only disappearing because it is believed that they will disappear ("everyone else is doing this, I should too!"). This also appears to be the case with the stock markets; panic buying is emptying shelves whereas panic selling is taking its toll on trading.

    The reality is we need not panic, but we should seek out solutions, adapt to the evolving situation and remember that we are all in this together. If you know someone is unhealthy, short on supply, or even suffering from FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), I implore you to help them however you can (obviously, take care of yourself too). In the spirit of this idea, please know that my inbox is always open.

    For now, I intend to spend my little spare time catching up on TV shows, reading a stockpile of books, and giving my cat the attention she demands (at least until the chipmunks decide to run past the window again). :)

    EDIT: Post pet pictures here!

    #16 foncused, Mar 20, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2020
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  17. WE --not only as a society, but as a civilization-- failed. For me this week was the most depressed in my entire life, just because of people being so brainwashed by media about the virus. I'm not scared, nor anyone should be scared.
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  18. I'll try not to reiterate what others said or sound smarter than I really am but I agree that the impact this will have on society will be far greater than anything we are dealing with now related to the Corona Virus. I keep hearing people (specifically my parents) theorizing about insane ideas that could happen to the world because of Corona Virus. While I won't mention them as that is not needed, I do believe the cause of this is the media and social media.
    I agree with completely with this. The fact that people are panic buying things and hoarding and throwing common sense out the window is quite absurd. There's only so much toilet paper you need for 3 weeks, right? Apparently not.

    The virus has also affected me personally a decent amount. Most of my friends are from school and now when I don't see them on a basically daily basis, it can be hard just wanting to get up almost. My school told us to stay home for the whole week last week and we will start e-Learning on March 30th which means we probably won't go back till the end of April or even May. This is a real bummer for me as I actually enjoyed school and chose 3 of my classes around what I hope to major in. Now that the building is closed and we start e-Learning in a week, it's really a bummer as I can't do those things outside of school which makes school, for me, so much less fun and exciting. I'd assume we will be doing written assignments in those classes which is a far cry of what we usually do but I guess there's nothing I can do about it.

    Anyways I hope everyone else is doing fine. I'm still here for the time being so feel free to say hi if you're in the mood to chat.
  19. You're completely right MD_5. Here I am , living in Italy , where the situation is anything but fun. I've seen some things I would've never imagined to see: people insulting each other because they were 'too close' and other hilarious things. I reccomend to everyone to stay healthy, and respect the rules imposed by your country/government , but mostly stay happy and remove hate from your mind. It is very sad for me as well since I haven't been able to meet any friend, or to be more precise, to leave home for more than a month now, but that should not make a reason to share panic.
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  20. FrostedSnowman

    Resource Staff

    It's a really interesting topic. The frenzy that has occurred because of the attention the media has given it, and the way most of society has interpreted the pandemic. Sure, it's sweeping globally and has unfortunately taken the lives of loved ones, but it is for a fact blown out of the scope that it really should be in. Reason being, people have been mass hoarding resources, insulting one another, and turning society into a free-for-all environment.

    On the contrary, although I have not necessarily investigated or conducted thorough research, some planetary [environmental] issues have been lessened by people being less active. If you haven't heard about it, there's this article which touches on it: Although it's likely a temporary pro, it goes to show that such things are possible, and can get better.

    Overall, it's a devastating situation with the mass hysteria going on and a lot of places being closed, people being laid off, delays in events, etc. Hope everyone is doing great, however. :)
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