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  • Writer's pictureBy Mar-Vic Cagurangan

The Matrix 2020

A sinister hacker released a malevolent virus that caused the world to stop and thrust everyone into a treadmill. We are going nowhere, but we tread on the illusion of motion. Year 2020 is a long “Black Mirror” episode.

Individually we are inert but our attempts to keep up with the rapid pace of changes happening around leave us in existential isolation.

Our heads are spinning, having been forced to adopt new sets of behavior, practices and values that abruptly relegated everything that we knew to a far distant past.

With the nonstop surge in Covid-19 cases, those of us who are “non-essentials” are required to contribute to the battle against the pandemic by not doing anything other than to wear our masks, stay home, practice social distancing and streamline our social life. Our social affairs have become a drive-thru routine. We drop by, we say hi and wave goodbye.

Families on death watch rely on technological devices. Instead of hugs, they have their hands pressed against the glass wall, saying their final goodbyes through tears, much like those scenes from Netflix drama series.

While 2020 will go down in history for a Wuhan virus that defies borders, it will also be remembered as the year that pushed us all into one place — the virtual world.

Traditional classrooms have been shuttered. Trained or not, teachers must teach online. With or without a dependable internet service, students must learn online. This Covid-stricken school year is a struggling experiment. While it forces everyone to upgrade the version of themselves to 2.0 and adapt to the inevitable digital migration, online education is beginning to reveal the gaps it creates. Whether or not it’s effective, the future product of this year’s education will tell.

Workplaces have become quiet spaces, while our homes now double as offices. Working in pajamas is no longer a sketch for sitcoms. The social distancing mandate has made teleworking imperative. Human resource experts are still weighing the pros and cons of allowing employees to work from home. In the same manner, employees are loving and hating at the same time.

Zoom became part of our daily vocabulary. It eliminated distance, cut the need for a physical meeting venue and shrunk the world smaller. Office meetings are conducted, business deals are closed and conferences’ agenda are tackled without anyone having to leave home and without everyone shaking hands. The pandemic has created a world of disconnected connections.

We are asked to stay home. We are afraid to contract Covid-19. But we still need to buy groceries. We still want to shop for nonessentials. We still crave restaurant food. Click to order. While we may have gotten used to ordering products on Amazon, the pandemic has compelled Guam’s business sector to jump on board with the e-commerce train.

The horrors of the pandemic will eventually end but until the much-awaited vaccine becomes available, we are in this for the long haul.

But as with any tragic reality, this Covid year has reminded us of many things we should have already known. We eat to live, not live to eat. We cannot and should not always rely on our government. Money can buy medicine but not health. We can’t plan for what we can’t predict. These pandemic lessons abound the internet.

When this is all over, we have the opportunity to reset.

Mar-Vic Cagurangan is the publisher/editor of the Pacific Island Times. Send feedback to

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