I wrote a couple of things, and they’ve ended up being shared on social media more widely than I was expecting. The first was meant as comfort and encouragement because so many friends and colleagues in the US and other Western countries are in a panic. Here’s that text (which is being shared on Facebook but does not have my name attached, for privacy reasons):
Just a quick note before I call it a night. This is mostly for friends in the States, although people in other parts of the world may find it mildly useful. Here in Hong Kong, we are about two months ahead of you in dealing with coronavirus panic. Even though there are key differences (this place has been a war zone for almost a year, and this isn’t HK’s first time at the rodeo), the underlying issue is that we’ve dealt with this already, and the rate of infections is dropping. The same goes for Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea. (No comment on China because that’s a longer essay than I wish to thumb-type.) If we’ve learned anything, it’s that this is a serious matter but that it can be dealt with. You’re going to be fine, and your kids are even more likely than you are to be fine. Right now, yes, you should be staying home as much as possible. That’s what we did. It’s a pain in the ass and you will get cabin fever. I won’t lie. Read books, watch movies, drink wine, whatever gets you through the day. After a few weeks, life will reassert itself. You’ll get back to work. You’ll get back to the gym. The weight you gain during this time will come off again (I keep telling myself this). Schools will probably remain closed longer than you expect. It sucks that businesses are closing; that the stock market is taking a beating; and that the US is in the hands of a moronic, gibbering fatberg who should be in jail on charges of treason, but this isn’t the zombie apocalypse. Over on this side of the planet, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be on. Be concerned, be rational, and remind friends to reach out to anyone they know in this part of the world to talk about how we have handled this. Panic, however, is not useful. It’s also not warranted.
On a separate note, I’m working on a document about how to shift to online teaching in a hurry. This is affecting a lot of people I know, so I’m writing about what I did and what I am doing now. If this is of interest, I should have it ready tomorrow.
If I have anything to add to this, I’m aware that people who fall into certain risk categories (elderly, immunocompromised, pulmonary conditions) have more reason for concern. So do people in gig jobs, or who earn an hourly wage. I realize that as a salaried university lecturer, I’m in a privileged position, and that should be acknowledged. If I have any advice at all, it’s to keep a sense of perspective, make plans, and then enact them. The situation is real, and things are going to get rocky before they get better, but sensible measures kept it from getting much worse here. And there is an endpoint to this.
I have also written a document containing tips on how to make a quick switch to online teaching. Here in Hong Kong, we had to transition rather abruptly in the last few weeks of the fall semester because of the intense violence that broke out on university campuses and elsewhere in the city. As awful as that was (and I have a great deal more to say about it), it gave academics here a bit of an advantage: when we had to suspend FTF classes early in the current term, we already had contingency plans in place. Here is a link to that document:
You are welcome to share this with anyone who may benefit from it.
I don’t have a Patreon, so I’m not asking for anything here. All of this is meant to help. But I would be remiss not to add that if you find yourself stuck at home in need of something to read, my books are actually not terrible.