Paul Elie writes at The New Yorker on the uses of metaphors in relation the the Covid-19 virus. Based on the work of Susan Sontag he reminds us to be careful on our use of language when thinking and writing about the virus. He also makes an interesting point on how we use metaphors for illness for phenomena in society:
Rather than applying societal metaphors to illness, we’ve applied illness metaphors to society, stripping them of their malign associations in the process. It may be that our fondness for virus as metaphor has made it difficult for us to see viruses as potentially dangerous, even lethal, biological phenomena. In turn, our disinclination to see viruses as literal may have kept us from insisting on and observing the standards and practices that would prevent their spread. Enthralled with virus as metaphor and the terms associated with it—spread, growth, reach, connectedness—we ceased to be vigilant. Jetting around the world, we stopped washing our hands.