David Byrne pens a thoughtful essay about coronavirus and modern society

David Byrne has penned an opinion piece on his site Reasons To Be Cheerful, discussing coronavirus and his observations on what the pandemic has revealed about modern society.

The former Talking Heads frontman referred to the crisis as an “opportunity to learn how to change our behaviour”, noting that, “in emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen.”

David Byrne
Photo: Stefan Hoederath/Getty Images

“The world is changing – so can we.” David Byrne has written a piece on the social implications of coronavirus and what we should learn from it.

In his article, Byrne pinpointed climate change and the hyper-connected nature of modern society as key factors in the crisis, describing: “It’s ironic that as the pandemic forces us into our separate corners, it’s also showing us how intricately we are all connected.”

“It’s revealing the many ways that our lives intersect almost without our noticing,” he continued. “And it’s showing us just how tenuous our existence becomes when we try to abandon those connections and distance from one another. Health care, housing, race, inequality, the climate — we’re all in the same leaky boat.”

He continued to note that, “viruses don’t respect borderswe have to put aside some of our suspicions and animosities towards others and see how much we can limit or even halt the damage.”

Byrne paid tribute to the action of countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, who he states “didn’t hesitate” to stop the spread of the virus by making “personal sacrifices and do what is necessary for the greater good.” 

“We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behaviour accordingly.”

Byrne concludes that while it’s impossible to test everyone for the virus, a collective change in the mindset of society “could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.”

The singer made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live in nearly 31 years back in February, performing Talking Head’s classics Once In A Lifetime and Toe Jam alongside the cast of his critically acclaimed Broadway show, American Utopia.