On having recently had Covid and other modern freedoms

09.01, Thursday 30 Nov 2023

I’ve been on a few packed trains the last few days. I was in a crowded, not well ventilated ballet studio. Shoulder-to-shoulder at an event last night.

However I am swimming in Covid antibodies, having recovered just last week, and they’re bang up to date antibodies too, the latest version, fresh off the line.

I’m on a train right now. Somebody just coughed, right behind me. Who cares. Who cares!

The sense of invulnerability is giddying. Well that might be residual vertigo, which is my body’s go-to Covid symptom, but let’s put it down to freedom.

And a type of freedom I didn’t notice before all of this! A new everyday freedom for me to enjoy.

Here’s another new freedom: taking old-fashioned cabs.

I got a black cab home a while back and the feeling of it being Not An Uber was tangible.

I lounged in the back seat, unjudged. No fear that my conversational patter would be adjudicated to being not up to scratch, with the driver’s rating dinging my score and making it harder to me to hail future Ubers.

I said nothing and enjoyed looking out of the window at nighttime London passing by. Home, I almost certainly said thank you (I don’t remember precisely) but it was from respectful gratitude, not from monitored, gamified fear.

So as the world changes, these new potential freedoms pop into existence.

It’s fun to recognise them.

Another! Energy freedom. A weird side-effect of our climate change response.

I ran across the following one while looking into solar-powered websites: What I have to say about carbon accounting in web browsers will shock you (2022).

Quoting Clive Thompson, as linked in that post, who installed renewables for his home:

I’ve stopped worrying about electricity use, both economically and ethically.

I no longer walk around finger-wagging at my family members. Want to blast the AC? Crank away. It’s coming from the sun, and I can’t use all that electricity even if I try.

I haven’t had the pleasure of that one yet.

Then there are tech-related modern freedoms.

The freedom of being on a plane and having no phone and no wi-fi – blissful escape! That one has eroded now. Just knowing you could spring for the fee and get connectivity brings back the trace guilt. Boooo.


Luckily our interconnected internet means that when some major infra has a wobble, like Cloudflare goes down, or AWS - happy days! - then you can’t get on workplace chat, and all your cloud-based work apps are down, so you can’t be productive.

Always great when that happens.

Even better when GitHub Copilot is down and I can’t code, or ChatGPT falls over and your IQ is dinged 20 points. It’s like, sorry, I’m now simply too dumb to work. Uh-oh.

Everyone understands, we’re all in the same boat, there’s nothing to be done, relax.

Infrastructure instability also means, I am sure, team upon frantic team of engineers on pager duty running around in the middle of the night, costing providers millions as they lose their SLA bonuses, plus there’s the productivity loss to the global economy, etc.

But also, that sweet taste of a new kind of freedom, right? Cloud downtime = snow day for grown-ups.

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