Three positive things to come out of the pandemic … and three not-so-good things as well (besides the obvious)
Life has changed so much, so drastically over the past two-three months in the wake of the discovery of the novel coronavirus (covid-19) and the ensuring worldwide pandemic with which we are all now grappling. It’s surreal (like we’re all living an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, as I put it six weeks ago), kind of haunting, and has produced a huge number of unhappy outcomes for millions of people, from illness/death to job loss (and sadly, many who lost jobs also lost health insurance), and so on.
To paraphrase a common saying nowadays, Stuff just got real for me in the past two weeks. I admit that prior to these last 14 days I was one of those people (who are millions and millions strong, mind you) who may not have been taking it seriously enough. The “Stuff” that “got real” for me was when a family member was diagnosed with covid-19, and then today I received word that a friend of a coworker of a close friend of mine was diagnosed and is now self isolating in the small town where I live.
That was my wake-up call. This, I said, is waaaaayyyyyy too close to home for comfort, I know the person in question, and I might as well get on the bandwagon of the mask wearers carrying their disinfecting wipes everywhere they go. As far as staying at home and social distancing goes, I have no problem, for the most part, with either action. I’m glad to spend my days with my four cats and attending to their numerous demands for food, petting, etc. Nope, not a problem for me at all.
Through the time period since we citizens of the world learned about covid-19 a number of interesting trends have been observed in people as reactions to the virus. Generally, crises situations bring out the best and the worst in people, and this pandemic has definitely done that. One does not have to look too far to find news stories on the various media that cover just about and aspect and angle there can possibly be regarding this global health threat.
Sure, many a media outlet seems to pepper their news reporting with “horrible”, “deadly”, over-the-top dramatic rhetoric that no doubt is why many people are scared almost literally to death about the the virus. What you know (or think you know) depends a lot on which media you consume. This is true with anything, not just the novel coronavirus.
It’s almost as though covid-19 is becoming similar to cancer, in that many of us know one or many people with it (or we have it ourselves) or who have died from it, and very few people are completely unaffected. Cancer is everywhere, and covid-19 seems as though it is becoming that way.
Tonight I listened to a couple of podcasts on the pandemic and the world’s reaction to the latest coronavirus. One was a TED Talk on which an epidemiologist named Larry Brilliant was asked for his take on the unfolding worldwide drama of the virus and the reactions various countries have taken toward containing the spread of covid-19. Briliant praised the efforts of such countries as Taiwan, Iceland, South Korea, New Zealand, and Germany for their government’s approach to the spread. Brilliant graded the U.S. and the UK with an F for their slow and inefficient responses to the grave threats this virus presents to humanity.
While explaining the slow response of the North American governmental units and its people, Brilliant said it’s possible that many persons “didn’t take it (the virus) seriously.” He further said that as progress is slowly taking place in this country as far as testing people and treating those who are found to have covid-19, that we all would do well to have a collective“we are all in this together” mindset towards dealing with the pandemic if we are to see a slowdown and eventual halt to the spread of the virus. If we don’t work together, we may fall apart … as victims of the sickness.
All that being said, let’s go back to my main thesis, on some of the good and some of the bad outcomes of the pandemic. First: Three good things we’re seeing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak are:
- People are becoming more mindful about what (and who) we touch, about how we clean ourselves and our environments, and how we conduct ourselves out in “the civilized world.” I’m sure most of us have seen memes on social media lamenting about how we have to teach people how to wash their hands, something we should have known in kindergarten. Yes, that’s sad and frankly maybe a bit disgusting to think about, but hopefully more hands are cleaner now and the world just might be a little less germ-ier.
- Some people are becoming perhaps kinder and more considerate of others, Many of us are happily practicing social distancing, are not hugging our friends (which some of us are NOT happy about, though we know it is necessary), and also are not blocking aisles in stores when we are out and about doing “essential shopping.” (But seriously folks, does it take a public health threat to make some people quit hogging the lanes at the grocery stores so others can’t get through?? It shouldn’t.)
- Many people are productively using their spare time off from their jobs to do a variety of volunteer work in their communities. I know groups that are sewing homemade face masks and distributing them to healthcare facilities and other places where needed. On a news show the other night I watched stories about people who were shopping for and delivering groceries to people who can’t go out in public. One doesn’t need to look very hard to find feel-good stories of the positive contributions some people are making to their fellow humans, which is very heartwarming.
On the other hand, as we who pay attention to the media know, there are a number of unfortunate situations and behaviors that have come up since the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. and abroad. I will describe only Three Not-so-Good Situations to come out of the Pandemic (besides the obvious illness and death) that I’ve observed and feel are worth commenting on.
- Some people are becoming almost anti-social and in some cases hostile and even violent to others. For example, people talk about getting “the evil eye” from other people because they aren’t wearing a mask (the effectiveness of which seems to vary depending on where you seek your information on this). The uncertainty and anxiety that springs from the fear that is poured into our heads daily is resulting in negative, sometimes hurtful behaviors toward others — to which I just have to say: Stop it, people!!!! Please try a little civility and kindness instead. We are all neighbors, inhabiting this planet together.
- Some people are letting their boorish/brutish/or just plain annoying behavior out of the closet. What I mean by this is all those marches and protests aimed at government entities to “open up our state” so people can go back to work, and everyone can go out to eat, drink , shop, whatever. I understand that some places, such as Texas, appear to have bowed to those protesters and lifted the “stay at home” order. Interestingly, that state has a relatively high infection rate, yet the powers-that-be evidently think their residents need to go back to life as it used to be. Good luck with that. Better ramp up on the medical supplies, testing and PPE equipment.
- Lastly because it’s not a huge sin that is really hurting anyone (except for perhaps the eyes of their beholders) is the fact that a lot of people are “letting themselves go,” using the pandemic as an excuse. I’ve seen too many memes showing people with crazy hair, overgrown eyebrows and such, and I think: are some people just completely incapable of doing their own beauty cares at home? I’m not talking self-administered haircuts (no!! NOT that!!) but doing their own manicures, for example. Some people complain about how they are gaining weight because of this. Well, get outside and move!! It’s called a “stay at home” order, not a “you can never go outside, never, ever” rule.
As time moves slowly along — while covid-19 cases quickly spread — and many of us wake up wondering whether to wear a mask in public, wonder what to do that day or wonder what day it is, it does us all well to remember what epidemiologist Larry Brilliant said on TED Talk: Remember, we’re all in this together. If we realize that and work together cooperatively to reduce or halt the spread of this potentially deadly virus, we might get to go back to work, to school, and to a simulation of what used to be a “normal life,” sooner rather than later. Folks, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps working together we will all see that light sooner than later.