As the reality of just how much of an impact the Covid-19 pandemic is going to have starts to sink in, it's easy to really lean into your anxious tendencies by obsessively reading the news and ruminating on all the worst possible outcomes, especially if you're self-isolating or just spending more time alone while practising social distancing.
If you find yourself in a worry spiral, why not spend some time focusing on these five Good Things instead*:
1. Abortion will be taken out of the Crimes Act in New Zealand.
This piece of exceptionally good news was a bit overshadowed by the reason for this list, but allow yourself a moment to reflect on what a huge stride for women it is that the Abortion Legislation Bill passed its third and final reading in Parliament, and to thank all the incredible people like Dame Margaret Sparrow for the long, hard, righteous work they've done for reproductive justice in this country. Sometimes it feels like feminism never gets a win, and despite the fact the Bill could have been stronger, this is nevertheless a major victory for women's rights.
2. Penguins are roaming an empty aquarium in Chicago.
The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is closed until at least the end of the month due to the coronavirus pandemic, and while the place is empty, they've just... let some of the penguins go on a little adventure in there. One of the penguins is called Wellington! According to the aquarium's comms person, he is 32 years old, and he was most interested in the fishes on his field trip! Classic Wellington. Shedd is posting regular updates to its Twitter account, so if you need me I'll be sitting here reading comforting tweet captions which say things like "while this may be a strange time for us, these days feel normal for animals", making this face: :""""))))))) and feeling like maybe everything's going to be ok after all.
3. Everyone's posting their working from home outfits to Instagram for no real reason other than that it seems nice.
A while ago I read a piece called I Don't Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Any More, its central thesis being that the internet went from a place of doing stuff for the sake of it to a place of utility: sounding smart and/or outraged on Twitter, looking good on Instagram, doing... whatever it is that people use Facebook for. Working From Home Fits (@wfhfits), an Instagram account which runs user-submitted photos of the stuff people are wearing while they work at home due to self isolation or social distancing, feels like a slice of Web 1.0: posts without purpose, just for fun. It's pictures of people's clothes. That's it, that's the account. Some of them look hot or whatever but mostly they just look like they're having fun taking part in an entirely pointless project. It's also great for nosy people who (like me) so enjoy looking inside other people's houses their hobbies include perusing the Trade Me flatmates wanted listings of friends of friends. Note: This wholesome project is almost certain to go the way of the Instagram egg at some point, but let's all enjoy it while it lasts.
View this post on Instagram
4. The Venice canals are clear and air pollution is down in Italy and China.
Italy has arguably been hit worst so far by the spread of Covid-19, with thousands of deaths and many more predicted. The country has been in lockdown since early-mid March, and the resulting pause on the previously thriving tourism industry has created an unexpectedly beautiful upside to an otherwise tragic situation. Fish can be seen in the now-clear Venice canals (usually muddied due to so many passing boats disturbing the sediment on the bottom), dolphins have apparently been popping up along parts of the coast they usually avoid and air pollution has dropped in several cities. (Air pollution is also way down in China.)
5. The scale of the crisis is perhaps enough to jolt us into an entirely new way of ordering the world.
What Italy might suggest is that there are things about our environment which are not able to thrive when we behave as if the only way to measure success is through economic growth and lives with increasing access to convenience and pleasure. The coronavirus pandemic has created a flash of insight which reveals nothing about how history will shape up is a foregone conclusion. Scientists in New Zealand are already talking about how emission reductions from slashed air travel and factory shutdowns could teach us how to mitigate climate change.
There is also an enormous chance to use this moment to agitate for political change. Who are we now clearly seeing makes the economy run? Workers: hospitality staff, nurses, doctors, delivery and bus drivers, supermarket check out operators, teachers. There is huge potential for the union movement to make a major comeback.
It's encouraging to see the Government permanently lift benefits in their relief package (a package some are excitedly - arguably too excitedly- calling disaster socialism), and focus on properly supporting workers as well as businesses. If there is an upside to this crisis, I hope that it will be a collective imagining of a world which better protects every member of society, for the good of all our nations as a whole. :''))))))
*We're making 5 Good Things a regular series during lockdown, to give people something fun/ hopeful/ posi vibes to look at for a wee moment when the actual news gets a bit much. You can read the dispatch from Day 1 here.