Fintan O’Toole: Coronavirus has made all familiar things strange

It should not take something as terrible as this to awake us to life’s inherent fragility

Ten-year-old Charlotte O’Brien visits her grandad Pat O’ Brien in Clontarf, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Ten-year-old Charlotte O’Brien visits her grandad Pat O’ Brien in Clontarf, Dublin. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

How long will it last? The question does not apply merely to the Covid-19 pandemic. It relates to its economic, social and political consequences. It is not easy, in the midst of a crisis that is only beginning to unfold, to imagine whether and how it will change the way we live, the way we interact, even the way we think.

But already, almost everyone is experiencing what we might call the shock of the old. We have become used, in our era of rapid technological change, to startling innovations. But the coronavirus – even though it is called “novel” – brings with it a different order of disruption.

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