Week Five! As everybody already knows, everything has changed this week. The spread of COVID-19 has caused a lot of infrastructure to shut down in an attempt to flatten the curve, epidemiologically speaking. My local school board has just decided a few hours ago to completely shut down all K-12 indefinitely.

In times like these, it’s easy to forget the long-term and meaningful. It’s easy to become short-sighted and give up on what you’ve been working on–your principles–for seemingly the sake of survival. The contrary is in fact true, and it is times like these more than ever that you need to stick to your convictions. It is easy to hold conviction and say you are a person of character when things are easy.

This virus has allowed the fragility of our infrastructure to go on full display. For the first time in a long time, it is apparent to see how little people know what they’re doing. In a lot of locations and nations, we are scrambling by the seat of our pants.

It is obvious that the actions taken when things were still under control were the right ones–even though they seemed alarmist and paranoid when they were taken. Taiwan and South Korea successfully set up operations that have minimized the impact of the virus. They have been thorough and unrelenting in their policy.

How does any of this apply to myself? I have been wondering the past few weeks on how to tackle the fragility of my own systems, as if I were to look at an example at a far larger scope, the answer is just as obvious as it has always been–hard work.

You can try to minimize the friction of tasks, you can try to automate the tedious, you can try your best to fight your akrasia. And this approach might be clever and work for awhile, but there is such a strong outward force such as this–when a black swan event occurs–this cleverness breaks. And the only thing that can withstand such things is conviction of values and willingness to work hard towards the ideal of those values.

Were it not for those that are working tirelessly in the healthcare field, or those that stock store shelves with no sick leave, or the multitude of other people that do not get the luxury of staying home, everything would have already crumbled.

I believe this pandemic has made me realize how self-centered by current systems are operating. It is paradoxically difficult to work towards the betterment of community when social distancing is the number one recommended suggestion right now.

The only real remedy to this is the Internet–a utility that has clearly been underappreciated. Only when push comes to shove, do we figure out how much work can actually be done with the Internet alone. Had there been more value put into remote work, and allowing more people to work from home, there would not be so much chaos and difficulty as there is now.

As terrifying and uncertain as things are now, there is clearly unknown territory moving forward–where there’s abundance of opportunity and potential for innovation for the Internet to be better utilized for the social public and community-at-large, and although I have no idea how yet, I think that’s exciting.