Live Together, Die Alone

by Kunal Tandon March 30th, 2020

Doing my duty as a citizen of the world, I’m writing this while self-quarantining. In this time of physical isolation, rather than dive into one of the countless highly recommended new TV shows or movies, I found myself revisiting one of my old favorites, Lost.

Lost tells the story of a group of strangers who survive a plane crash, and find themselves stranded on a mysterious island. Early in the series, one of the leads of the show, Dr. Jack Shepherd emerges as the leader of the group. He explains “It’s time to start organizing, we need to figure out how we’re going to survive here...last week most of us were strangers, but we’re all here now, and God knows how long we’re going to be here. But if we can’t live together, we’re going to die alone.” Live together, die alone. It’s a theme that the show comes back to several times throughout the run of the series. It’s also a line that I’ve been thinking about before beginning my rewatch of Lost, as around the world we are told that in order to survive, we must all separate. The irony is not lost on me. The pun is not intended either.

While we are required to be physically apart to fight the spread of COVID-19, our effort will only be as successful as our ability to do it together. If people don’t cooperate, we cannot achieve our goals. Cooperation on a total global scale is difficult, many would say impossible, but it is necessary. It’s necessary in the present, and it will remain necessary. We will get through the COVID-19 pandemic, but other global challenges will still persist.

What has been encouraging in a time where things seem awful, has been seeing how people are responding in a positive way by leveraging the tools that are available to them. Zoom has become a tool that’s just not enabling remote work, but homeschooling, and social “gatherings.” Companies like Square and Shopify have stepped up to support small businesses and online merchants. Food delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats have removed delivery fees to encourage more ordering from local restaurants, which have been forced to close their dining rooms. Online communities have coordinated donations of masks, meals, and other supplies for medical workers in hospitals across the country. On NextDoor you can see younger neighbors offering to run errands and deliver groceries for their elderly and immunocompromised neighbors. Musicians are doing livestream concerts from their homes to entertain everyone who is doing their part by staying at home. Google docs with lists of people looking for work, and companies that are hiring are being put together for millions who have lost their jobs. This list goes on and on. Technology has been the target of a lot of criticism over the past few years, much of it earned, but in this difficult global crisis where we physically have to separate, it is helping us stay connected.

As a collective people, we have all been challenged. We will get through this. We will face new challenges in the future, and I hope we continue to find ways to work as a team, and continue to live together.

@kunaltandon