The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most important change-agent of our generation. After only a few short months there is already abundant evidence of far-reaching and dramatic changes to the lives of consumers, clinicians and communities.
A practical example is how traditional face-to-face meetings, workshops and events transmogrified into virtual formats almost overnight. There were of course some initial IT teething problems, but they were in the main solved relatively quickly.
Of arguably greater importance was the imperceptible and organic development of a new digital etiquette to help ensure that everyone is actively engaged in and successfully contribute to virtual meetings.
In the absence of non-verbal cues, sound resonance and interference provided an unexpected solution by necessitating that most microphones be muted to ensure speakers are heard clearly. This in turn caused many participants to forget to re-active their microphones before they make verbal contributions – hence the rejoinder: ‘you’re on mute’.
I would like to nominate the phrase ‘you’re on mute’ as an exemplar of how our human behaviour and interactions have changed because of COVID-19 for further reflection by armchair philosophers and sociocultural or linguistic anthropologists.
The specialty of General Practice, each of us individually, our myriad organisations and the consumers we care for have voices. We should remain mindful of being metaphorically ‘on mute’. A successful COVID-19 response requires that every voice be heard.
Change is hard. But humans are particularly adept at surviving and even thriving during change. As individuals we may often feel overwhelmed, but as a collective we are incredibly adaptable, resourceful and innovative – but only if we remind ourselves and others not to remain on mute.
Dr Carl de Wet
Clinical Lead, Gold Coast Primary Health Network
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