A couple of weeks ago Sarah Barker sent me a questionnaire about the quarantine. Since I think this could be interesting for you, we decided to share it here.
Where were you for Phase 1 of the pandemic?
I spent the whole phase one in Rome, in a shared flat. The flat is located between San Lorenzo and Pigneto. I don't live there but I got suck after the lockdown.
Did you consider changing locations when the isolation period was beginning?
Yes, but it was impossible and also quite stupid if you consider that you could spread the virus with you.
Looking back at Phase 1, how do think the impact of the virus has been managed in Italy thus far?
I think I don't have enough knowledge to give complete feedback. I think we have faced something so new that almost everything has been improvised. I can't judge something so unexpected, so new, but I think Giuseppe Conte (prime minister) has managed quite well the communication, he has been able to give strength and hope to people, convincing most of the population to accept the situation and go ahead. Obviously, they also have taken bad decisions but facing something so unexpected everybody could fail. Humans are supposed to make errors and learn from them. We learned a lot, and our case has been very important to other countries.
In your perception have people listened to the measures put in place by officials, either nationally or regionally – in Italy?
I think we did a good job. Of course, we've been bombarded with images of people breaking the rules, but this is just normal, a bad new is always good new for TVs and newspapers. Numbers showed that we did a good job, and that's enough.
Have these measures made you feel safe in your daily life during quarantine?
If you're obliged to stay at home, being safe is just obvious. The problem was about hospitals and emergencies, that was something to worry about. A lot of people died in hospitals so, as long as you stay at home everything is safe.
How did the quarantine affect your daily routine?
I don’t have a routine, I’m a freelancer, my daily life is always different,over the last years I definitely learned how to manage my time day by day. I’m also used to travel and work everywhere I go, so I can adapt easily to a lot of different situations. What I really missed was walking. I’m used to walking a lot, to explore cities, and being trapped at home has been quite annoying sometimes. But I think I filled that void taking pictures, producing the book, sharing stories on social media. I also like sport, and that was something I haven’t been able to replace with anything. You can’t play soccer in your bedroom.
What became the unexpected highlights and negatives of your days in quarantine?
I realised that the more you observe something, the more you discover. I spent the whole quarantine observing the world outside from the windows and the terrace, even if there was a lockdown, a lot of things happened around the building. The negative side is the risk to become obsessed with it.
How have those you are in contact with coped with quarantine?
Everybody had a different approach to quarantine. I think it mostly depends if you’re alone, where you are, how your relatives and friends are living the situation. We are mirrors, especially if we are stuck in the same situation.
Has online communication helped in your experience of quarantine?
I work with it so... definitely yes. Sharing thoughts, photos, ideas are important if you are alone. And It has been my only income, I actually survived thanks to the book.
Has social media had a more positive or negative role (or both) for you during the quarantine?
Positive. But sometimes I decided to take a break from it. Like 24h free every week. No mobile, no laptop, no anything.
How do you feel about the mixture of information about COVID-19 (regarding measures, cures, causes) that has been shared?
I don’t know, we’ve shared a lot of information, some of them were the truth, some of them not. This happens when something new comes out. Furthermore, sometimes I had the feeling that the facts have been ambiguously mixed with opinions and a lot of people on the internet have acted as a specialist. but this is a problem that affects the whole news business, not just the COVID-19 emergency.
Anyway, I really think that we (the public, the people) weren’t prepared for this news overload, we are used to consuming news, a topic or a fact, for a week, maybe two, rarely three. Now we have been obliged to talk on the very same topic for more than two months. Every day, every hour, every minute. Everything was related to this emergency. Not even the Twin Towers attack has been so lasting on mass media.
Have you seen any particular forms of solidarity or community appearing in Italy in reaction to the quarantine?
Yes, people tried to help each other. I think this is something we should be proud of. In my neighbourhood I’ve seen people helping homeless people, giving them food, money or whatever. The lockdown has affected also the assistance centres, so people on the street were definitely alone. Anyway, it’s very hard to help somebody when you must maintain social distance. On the internet, I’ve seen a couple of big crowdfunding campaigns, powered by famous or not famous people. Also, some companies have helped a lot, some of them have drastically changed their manufacturing line to produce things we needed, like gloves, masks and sanitizers. I think this is something that identifies our culture: we are all relatives, we love each other if something bad happens. The other side of this is the corruption, the favouritism, the nepotism. I believe that our social structure is based on this paradox, the Coronavirus emergency has confirmed this.
Overall how well or badly do you think Italians have reacted in comparison to other locations you have been in contact with or hear about?
I don’t know, I don’t have enough information about other countries. My sister lives in Sweden, she’s scared because the government decided to don’t stop the country. Some of my friends from UK are scared too. In Spain, it seems quite similar than here in Italy.
Moving forward from quarantine what do you think or hope will change?
There will be a big “internet bubble”. In Italy, more than 70% of the small and medium companies don’t have a website or e-commerce. During the Lockdown, everybody understood the importance of being online. I hope that this will be a good opportunity to develop new businesses online, but I’m afraid about the hype we’re creating around it. Anyway, I think that a couple of months at home won’t change hundreds (maybe thousands?) of years of habits.
Maybe, maybe, maybe, we have just understood how many things that looked essential are actually useless. Maybe we will be more sensible of pollution, traffic, bad habits, personal and public hygiene. But I don’t think there will be a radical change.
I really hope that a lot of people are now aware that our countries aren’t just a closed system of people\money\traditions\etc. We travel more than we expect, physically or digitally, so borders are an abstract concept that doesn’t work anymore.
Moving away from quarantine do you think your perception or understanding of freedom (physically, technologically, socially) will change?
Freedom is a very complex concept, it has to do with boundaries, with limits, but it’s also unlimited, unchained. There’s no coherence in freedom, especially when something changes the limits. In our case, our limits coincided with our weakness.
Similarly, do you think your perception or understanding of safety has changed?
Of course, something has changed. Over the past decades, we’ve created a world based on optimization. Our cities have been built or transformed in order to save money, energies, time. We’ve been obliged to spend two months in a space bounded by our fragilities so also the safety perception\understanding has changed. But I think we will come back to our world soon, we won’t care so much about safety when everything will come back to normality.
And we will come back to our busy boring life.
If you wanna take part in this questionnaire, send an email to Sarah: