The world after this will never be the same…
The problem never lied with the disease itself. It lies within the deep dark tunnels of human behavior. After all, social distancing is merely a behavioral fancy term used to restrict people from gathering in large numbers.
I am few of the lucky ones to be with my family when my country, India, decided to go full lock-down for 3 weeks. I can only imagine the uncertainty, fear and discomfort my friends are going through who didn’t have this fortune to be with their closed ones in this trying time. Being a keen observer of human behavior, I had ample time at my disposal to follow few traits which I believe are buckets where each one of us lie. Obviously, my ‘ research’ is not comprehensive as I had to restrict myself within the four walls of my house. However, my limited interaction through cellphone and video calls has helped me to understand certain patterns which exists everywhere, India to USA.
Let’s see what these buckets are.
The ‘Over reactor’
Being house arrested has given people too much idle time to be exposed to social media. However, more often than not, social media has only helped spread news which are untrue. How many times have you heard of new ways how Covid-19 spreads? Through chicken, seafood, water? All of these were claimed to be untrue. For some people, it is better to avoid each and everything which was even hinted to be harmful, even though the news was deemed to be fake. These people will say, ‘It’s better safe than sorry’. I couldn’t agree more. However, sometimes we just require the perfect amount of caution, nothing more, nothing less. Thus, I call them ‘Over-reactor’.
The inclination of these people is to underestimate the speed or extent to which they might get affected by the disease outbreak.This bucket includes politicians, business owners, Gen Z spring breakers and anybody who rely on their intuitive feeling about how fast it is going to spread. We are constantly touching our face with hands which touched other surfaces, which in turn was touched by how many people we don’t know. Thus, we are unknowingly exaggerating our own control over whether we feel sick. People, thus, tend to believe that this disease will not affect them. Even if they get affected, they WANT to believe it will not be as deadly as it is to others. Hence, the name ‘the Denier’.
The primary thought which governs the minds of the people under this bucket is ‘will see when it happens around us’. When people were dying of the virus in Wuhan, some people believed it won’t come to Europe. When it started happening in Italy, there were very few reported cases initially. People believed it won’t be that serious in their country. However, the number of reported cases were deceiving. This was due to the scarcity of testing kits.
Human brain is well adapted to recording how often specific numbers are reported , but not as well adapted to understanding when those numbers might not be representative of reality.
- Baruch Fischhoff
People tend to take shortcuts while making decisions. What better way to decide than to follow how the neighbors react in this situation! This might include people in authority as well. Often we have seen state governments waiting for other state governments to extend the lock-down even when clearly it was the best thing to do. Some individuals are also stocking up on non- perishable foods just because their immediate neighbors are doing so. Hence, the name ‘Follower’.
Some people decide to self-isolate because they met with someone a week ago who is related to someone who may have been to an area which is contaminated. Some are hoarding up on essential (or non-essential?!) items as if to prepare for months of exile. These are all understandable reactions to something that is completely unknown to us. Maybe that’s how they can cope with all the stress and uncertainty surrounding this disease.
We all are fighting a battle against a microscopic enemy. Social distancing is our armor and washing hands is our weapon. Let me know if you agree with the categories mentioned. Did I miss any? Mention them in the comments!