An Abundance of Caution
Last updated: Apr 23, 2020
Line of Scrimmage Remixed
In thinking about my initial Line of Scrimmage proposal, and in meeting with Yeseul, I thought about projects I would want to live with or in, and decided that the anxiety I feel as a result of the spread of the novel coronavirus is a large part of why I find it difficult to live in my apartment (or really anywhere) under lockdown.
There is, in a sense, no solution to this problem. In NYC, hundreds of people are dying per day. For those of us trying to stay home, stay safe, and stay sane—our only options are mitigation of risk, an awareness of the situation, and an “Abundance of Caution.”
What’s An Abundance of Caution?
I keep hearing this phrase! It seems strange to me. It’s an explanation (excuse?) for cancelling events, or for moving things to online, or changing one’s schedule or practices. “In an abundance of caution,” allows the speaker to change their behavior while downplaying the risks they would face by choosing not to. When I hear this phrase it makes me feel a kind of embarrassment: this is not an abundance of caution. This is a normal amount of caution. And to pretend there is less risk than there is may be a silly thing to do.
“In an abundance of caution,” we’ve decided to deploy new tools for tracking the population and new surveillance measures. Is this out of a desire to protect or out of a desire to collect that information? Was pandemic relief part of the business plan for the smart thermometer company that’s touting their statistics on where fevers are, or do they now have an excuse for having information they intended to use for something else? What does a genuine abundance of caution look like? Let’s ramp it up. Let’s bring an abundance of caution into our homes, into our intimate relationships. Where is it really abundant? Will this provoke our anxiety further? Will it keep us safe? Will it be repealed when the virus is gone?