This isn’t a dispatch from now. All of these moments describe the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which echoes our current unsettling moment. At the time, the telephone — not yet in a majority of American homes — was advertised as a method for people to safely communicate with friends and family.
That was the idea, anyway. But as Harry McCracken writes at Fast Company, the reality didn’t quite live up to those expectations. During the quarantine period of a century ago, events from classes to weddings were conducted over the phone. (Sound familiar?) But there was one major issue that prompted a snag in this plan. Specifically, telephone systems in those days relied upon operators. And operators, being human in the time of a pandemic, tended to get sick.
Sometimes, historical parallels really do line up in uncanny ways.
[Article reprinted from Inside Hook. Written by Tobias Carroll. insidehook.com]