The world shifted in March 2020 and the pandemic that began as a public health crisis now has become a controversial politicised issue of gargantuan proportions in the span of 7 months.
Everyone has a different perception of reality right now. This is based on where one is living, working, and of course where one gets one’s news.
How bad is the coronavirus, really? With the lockdown being lifted, along with it, there is a dilution of the earlier stringent norms allowing people to figure out for themselves the extent of precautions they wish to take.
Without concrete guidance, and mixed news about what’s right or what’s wrong, how does one navigate one’s way through and make the right call for every new situation one is thrown into.
Are we following or bending the guidelines about masks, staying six feet apart, and hand-washing? There are a few patterns that emerged while a study was conducted on different social media platforms. Some common pointers are as follows.
- Nearly everyone considers their personal level of risk tolerance to be reasonable and cautious. The details of that risk tolerance varied dramatically from person to person.
- Most of the population does seem to be quite reactive and tending to feel judged, and also being judgmental about the actions of people around us.
- A lot of people especially the youngsters seem to agree that the moralistic judging and politically divisive energy around this topic make them uncomfortable.
The actual COVID guidelines for both travel and life seem pretty unclear to most people, which has caused anxiety and stress in general.
There are unanswered questions around the pandemic with each country having different rules.
-Are you supposed to wear a mask? Then why are so many people mask-free, and how big of a deal is it to take off the mask to eat and drink when in a common or public place.
-Are we allowed to see our friends if we stay six feet apart and wear masks, or are we supposed to continue to stay home and avoid social contact of all kinds?
-Are we supposed to wear the mask while walking outside? Is it different if we are running or exercising in the outdoors? Are there health risks of wearing a mask during such activities?
With so many questions about this virus, the lack of clarity around the questions can be distressing. A sense of not knowing what the rules are, what we can do, what we can’t especially in this case when potentially it can be dangerous for oneself and others.
The truth is that the pandemic has made life hard, and it’s easier to emotionally disconnect from the collective sometimes than to live with it hanging over us. There is mounting anxiety and for many families living with vulnerable or elderly family members, there is a constant fear of making some mistake that puts a loved one at risk. If one simply forgets to sanitize the groceries or wash our hands for only fifteen seconds - do we endanger ourselves and those around us?
There is a growing sense of needing balance. To neutralize the fear factor by adding sensible, sustainable habits to our everyday lives. There is a need to reconnect with one another in new ways to avoid becoming social recluses or islands, which we as humans are not meant to be.
We are imperfect. We are human. We are doing our best. Sometimes we have to reach deeper to give a better version of our best, and sometimes we have to offer ourselves (and others) grace and compassion for the ways in which we (and they) go adrift.
Stay Safe. Stay Compassionate to one another.