COVID-19 is a novel virus that has called for some novel approaches to the way we connect and communicate. It’s a global health crisis that calls for our cooperation but demands that we stay apart.
The changes to our lives in 2020 have been seismic and, at times, surreal, and though we’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’ quite a lot this year, there’s a recent precedent in the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, commonly called the Spanish flu, which plagued the world right after the First World War.
What is completely – bracingly – new is how technology has shaped our response to this pandemic. During the Spanish flu, people often endured long waits to hear from loved ones via mail, print or telegram. Today, we can connect across continents in an instant.
The changes to our working and social lives have consoled, amused, exhausted, horrified and thrilled us. They’ve caused us to look long and hard at changing definitions of privacy, intimacy and community.
Living online may have also warped our sense of time. In this virtual exhibition, we look back at the ways Australians have communicated and connected during times of crisis. The Spanish Flu was just over 100 years ago; but doesn’t March 2020 – when toilet-paper memes ruled the internet – feel like 100 years ago now too?