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Is your business Y2K (Coronavirus Edition) ready?

I've received the first email trying to sell me a Coronavirus business compliance kit.
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As suspected, the Coronavirus has reached the same level of absurdity as the Y2K bug of two decades ago.

Private businesses will be scared into following capricious regulation in order to remain compliant, just like businesses were scared into handing over their PC boxes to computer geeks all those years ago, to ensure their computers were resistant to the bug supposedly hellbent on destroying their hard drives the moment the clock ticked over to January 1, 2000.

Not long after the fear-mongering started for COVID-19, I received a forwarded message from the Department of Labour, informing me that all websites with ZA TLDs must include a link back to the “official” South African Coronavirus website.

I was livid, simply because this measure would not aid in curbing the spread of the virus one bit. The virus had already started consuming everything, including people’s common sense and two-ply toilet paper (in that order). Now all ZA websites were being forced to feed the fear too.

But I complied. And I vowed to move away from the ZA extension the moment I could jump ship.

Now I’ve received the first email asking whether my office was displaying the necessary “legal charts”, conveniently offering compliance packages (with special discount, mind you, if I bought more than one) in order to ensure my company would be Coronavirus ready (I call it “Y2K – Coronavirus Edition” ready).

This prompted me to search for what Department of Labour’s precepts are regarding COVID-19 in the workplace.

The search didn’t reveal anything much different from what government has been expecting of businesses for decades (plenty of bureaucracy), the only difference being the words Coronavirus and COVID-19 sprinkled in here and there, along with more red tape.

But that’s what makes marketing during these times so effective (as in the case of the email I received). Products and services are being peddled on fear and half truths. In fact, they don’t even need half truths. They can sell it on absolute truth. All it takes is WhatsApp and Facebook to distort things to a place beyond comprehension.

Fear-mongers will continually question your business’s compliance.

“Are you sure you’re compliant? But are you really sure? Do you know what will happen if you’re not?”

This will be followed by a frantic frenzy as business owners try to make sense of, and yield as best they can to, the convoluted rules thought up on a whim (much like what happened with the ridiculous GDPR law), which seem as fluid as a scene from the movie, Inception.

Then there’ll be a brief moment of quiet, when all the “compliant” signs are up on the wall, where they’ll be of no real use to anyone, until the next big scare.

If you’re a business owner trying to obey the law you’ll do everything in your power to be compliant.

But it won’t matter. Something else will come along soon to make doubly sure you can and will never be.

There seems to be a trend in South Africa:

  1. See a snake in the village.
  2. Shout loud enough for everyone in the village to hear that there’s a deadly snake.
  3. Appoint a committee to kill the snake.
  4. Go door to door to gather money from the villagers to buy tanks, cannons and bazookas to assist the committee in killing the snake.
  5. Pay a young boy peanuts to kill the snake with a stick.
  6. Find out the snake was actually a harmless brown house snake (but conceal this info from the villagers).
  7. Give the village chief a medal for bravery.
  8. Use the money to throw a huge party.
  9. Repeat next year.

As long as the villagers keep paying it doesn’t really matter anymore whether there really is a snake or not.

Am I saying the virus isn’t deadly?

Turns out it’s far deadlier than I gave it credit for.

The first thing it murders is common sense.

What remains are the convulsions of a man in his death throes, unaware to his very last breath that he’s being bumped off.

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Did they really try that? One can’t but help wondering why? I can’t, for the life of me, see the connection between a virus and your computer’s compliance except for a smelly cruel poisonous snake in the grass! Something is amiss! Let’s investigate!

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