Sunday, March 15, 2020
Love in the Time of Covid
Returning last Wednesday from a two-week trip to Asia, I encountered the slightest stigma related to Covid-19. The incidents, barely worth mentioning considering some have died from this virus, nonetheless bring to mind thoughts about love in the time of Covid.
We are experiencing an era of real illness, nothing like Ebola mind you. However, it is heavily intermixed with mass hysteria.
Perhaps put even better, massive hysteria.
Quick side point regarding America’s lack of preparedness:
At multiple sites in Singapore and Thailand, temperatures were taken at restaurants, hotels, malls, and museums. Officials asked about recent travel. You received a sticker with your temperature on it. Alcohol-drenched dispensers abounded.
In contrast, entering the Bradley terminal at LAX Wednesday night, not a single official asked me about recent locations of travel, inquired as to my health status, or took my temperature. I felt safer on the half-empty airplanes, the deserted resorts, and the streets of Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mei and Chiang Rei.
Suffice to say, and thank the transcendent, I feel absolutely fine.
Anyway, here comes the stigma:
My dear friend and suite mate, who I’ve known for 35 years, seemed frightened of me when we met in the office on Thursday morning. She anxiously backed away. Our usual,
hey, great to see you
hug was painfully absent.
Covid-19 is real. Yet, at the same time, nothing less than mass hysteria rules the day. Mass hysteria is a well known phenomenon in sociological and psychological circles. Also known as mass psychogenic illness, collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior, it is defined as:
a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors and fear.
Notice the phrase, “real or imaginary.” Yes, in truth, a new strain of the coronavirus, basically a form of influenza, exists. It is not as deadly as SARS but more contagious. At the same time, the reality of the illness does not preclude mass hysteria from overlapping with it.
We live in a time of unprecedented media influence. Even if you don’t watch the news obsessively, you feel the vibe. You can’t get toilet paper in grocery stores (which almost defines the hysteria, because Covid doesn’t cause diarrhea). Mass rallies, Disneyland, and crowded malls warrant avoiding.
On the other hand, wow, we need not prepare for the apocalypse.
According to an update issued by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists just two months ago, in January 2020, the world stands only 100 seconds before midnight in terms of nuclear annihilation.
Few realize that, even if no active war is occurring, tens of thousands of nuclear missiles remain poised to launch at countries around the world—from airplanes, submarines, and silos. It is nothing less than a miracle that a nuclear catastrophe has not yet occurred by accident.
It would take the tiniest of computer or human error to wipe humanity off the planet earth. The apocalypse would occur in some 20 minutes—way shorter than the Covid infectious period.
(But you don’t see that issue flooding the media).
The threat of nuclear annihilation, in my view, is a much more real than Covid.
If we want to freak out in a productive way, let’s all work to address nuclear proliferation, or to prevent the slowly-arriving climate disaster.
We humans are in love with denial, with dissociation.
We love drama.
In closing, beware of mass hysteria.
Yes, let’s take the recommended precautions.
Yes, let’s wash our hands, practice social distancing, and avoid large crowds.
But let’s also not freak out.
On an up note, and speaking of love, obstetricians can look forward to a major uptick in their practices come February 2021. When folks are isolated in their homes—with the bars, restaurants, and movies closed down—they fall back into that good old fashioned way of socially connecting:
They make love.
If you want to make a killing in the stock market, now is the time to buy companies making diapers, baby formulas, and all those incredibly cute types of baby clothing.
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