Among the conspiracy theories, family in-fighting, social distancing and our leaders giving us new and potentially contradictory information on a daily basis, there exists an experience. I am referring to my own, and of course, your individual experience. When the COVID-19 outbreak first began, my business began to slow dramatically. When the shut down came, I was truly surprised. I thought maybe it would be a week or so before things returned to “normal”. Perhaps it was an overreaction and the guys and gals in charge were taking big, politically motivated steps to make it seem they were doing all they could to maintain the public health. But it turns out things are pretty serious. Some eight weeks later, current circumstances heralded in by the COVID-19 virus have become the norm.
Now, quarantined, the economy in the tank, jobs lost, savings depleted, this virus has …changed us. Our personas have become stress tested. During this quarantine, pandemic or whatever less triggering title you may choose to put on it, I have noted what I’ll call COVID-alities.
No, that’s terrible.
But you get the point.
Personality, under these circumstances, is different. Is it the stress of the change?
The “not knowing”?
Loss of control?
Worrying about getting ill?
Whatever it is, it’s become damn interesting. Here are some observations on the new cult of person(COVID)ality .
Probably the most irritating Covid-ality to me is the Expert. The Expert knows exactly what must be done, how I (and thereby, you) should act and what it will take to defeat the virus. Or, conversely, how we should prepare for our ruin. They might say “If I were president, this would be handled differently.”
Now, whether you believe the virus is a danger or not, either way you can still exist in this category. You might feel the protective social tactics being taught during this pandemic is uncalled for and overkill. Therefore, you might have been the guy ahead of me in Home Depot yesterday going on and on and on and on (and on and on) to everyone around him about how “ridiculous” social distancing and masks are. Then proceeding to throw around a statistic that he heard somewhere comparing the flu to H1N1 or some other shit, from a source he wasn’t sure of, that he just trusts…just because it appeals to his current emotional state.
Or, you might be the person having a panic attack about how we should shut everything down. You’re on the phone with your friends talking about how “they” should order people to stay home and begin age triage with our elderly in order to preserve medical care for those of us who are young and can carry on the human race once the virus wipes us all out!
The Expert is the person sitting in the doctor’s office yelling at another person for not wearing their mask properly. The Expert is the person you see on social media protesting or mem-ing about foolish mask wearing.
The Expert is Donald Trump.
The Expert Type of COVID-ality is totally fed by the extreme nature of our news cycle. It’s got to be one or the other, a giant hoax or a world ender…gotta have a sellable label, and it’s got to be extreme. Hook, line and sinker, the evidence is there for either side to prove their position and drive themselves and everyone around them completely mad.
Experts need a sense of control. That’s what this is about.
Fine, I get it. It’s based in fear. They think “before someone tells me thier worries, I’m going to explain how it works in my mind”. Experts don’t want their certainty threatened. Their sense of control has replaced their sense of safety. This may be true for most of us, but for the Expert – it’s at a whole different level.
Hmmm… The End Times. As far as I know, the Earth will be engulfed by the sun in about five billion years – I think I learned that in a Vandals song in the nineties. Where did this idea of the End Times even come from? Not sure? Ask your local Prophet! S/He will be sure to tell you that this is g(G)od’s way of punishing the human race for our sins and that the End Times are upon us. The only thing to do is repent. Sin will only drive the plague on further.
Not much you can do with the Prophet. End Times have been predicted throughout the course of human history from the days of the Old Testament to the Branch Davidians. Every time there is a world event, be it a catastrophe, pandemic or war etcetera, the Prophet is there to tell you how terrible humanity is. And this is what we all truly deserve, pandemic. The hearts and minds of the Prophet are not easily won. I mean they have been promised eternity in paradise, right?
If you fall into this category, it can probably enhance your social bonds with those who feel similarly. If not, this type may seem out of touch, insane and impossible to communicate with. This type has become such a cliche, that I think everyone understands where we’re going.
Similarly to the Expert, The Prophet needs control. They get this feeling of control through surrendering it to god. Or God…(Thought: I truly don’t know if I should capitalize god, I don’t want to offend anyone. I want to be accurate. That is all.)
The aloof really aren’t that aloof. They are just suffering from what is called the Normalcy Bias. The Normalcy Bias is the tendency for us all to resume to our normal activity even when the world may be burning to the ground around us. This is why people are often caught unprepared in the middle of disaster or crisis. They just keep going on no matter the warnings or happenings that aren’t so normal. And when the tragedy hits, they often ask “Why is no one helping us?”
The Aloof are often unaware of the potential hazards surrounding COVID and are just sort of playing follow the leader with whoever is around them at this moment in time. Opposite of The Expert and The Prophet, The Aloof does not want control. They want to remain in the back and get by with out being noticed. They don’t want to make decisions and rely on someone else to do the heavy lifting and the thinking. Nothing will ever be their fault, and they will never take the lead or have an original idea.
Now, this group is probably the biggest spreader of the virus (this is my professional opinion as a sociology expert). Maybe they are too busy with work, kids or simple self-absorption to take time to understand what is going on. (Note: I am not a sociology expert) Or, maybe they are so unplugged from everything that they simply aren’t aware of the potential risks purported by media and culture regarding COVID-19. These types also tend to listen to all of the media banter about COVID, but don’t end up really listing a position either way. For these folks (I believe this may be most people) reality does not hit until it hits. Ouch. This sounds painful.
Hey Aloof dude, wash your hands…this shit is serious.
Maybe this title is an oxymoron. The Rational seeks understanding through thinking of all possibilities and gathering as much data as possible. As the data changes, so do the beliefs of the Rational. This can appear as insanity to those who are close with a Rational. The Rational understands there is data to back up just about any argument and that many others aren’t aware of this. Often people that do, use it for their benefit. Could this be the case here with COVID-19?
What about UFO’s?
The Rational would argue with the Expert, ask endless questions of the Prophet, try to outthink the Conspiracy Theorists (see below) and become impatient and angry with the Aloof. Always collecting data trying to make sense of it…. also knowing that data’s interpretation varies from time to time, person to person and from perspective to perspective.
Maybe this title, the Rational, is an oxymoron.
The Rational is going to think and think and think. All his/her decisions will be based on strategy. Even if they really feel they need to go browse clothes and shoes at Target, they will stay home. Even if they really miss their friends, they will not throw a house party or attend one. Stick to the plan.
Often s/he will rationalize. For example, the Rational might think: “I am not scared of death so why am I scared not scared of a virus?” The Rational’s worst fear is being out strategized, even by a virus. Being caught with your pants down, as it is said.
There is contingency for how to get in your car, how to leave for work and where the locations of personal protective equipment are. This is the ultimate level of control, safety. Knowing exactly what one can impact and control and only worry about those things. There’s an agenda for what will be cleaned in the house each day during the lockdown.
When interacting with loved ones they will very plainly bring up the the necessary behaviors that they believe will protect them and ask that they follow through on these items. Rationals are okay with admitting their feelings of loss of control. They will refer to their well thought out plan when the need for safety arrives knowing full well that even the best laid plans have holes in them.
The Rational may seem like an Aloof at times, internally concerned with themselves. They may get their mind stuck in a certain direction like the Conspiracy Theorist or the Expert, but this is not their main safety mechanism as it is in those types. As a matter of fact, the Rational needs to do more to spread the word about their thought process that could help other people instead of being so damn stuck in their own heads.
The Conspiracy Theorist
Ahhhh…. The Conspiracy Theorist. Truth is really stranger than fiction, isn’t it? Actually, this often isn’t the case. Just trying to get my friends, the Conspiracy Theorists going, here.
Usually, this type of personality has found a way for the world to make sense inside of a certain framework. IE politics, power, astrology etc. Conspiracy Theorists cannot see why anyone would see the world differently. “If we could only convince them!” They might think. “But… they think we’re crazy.”
Yep. We do.
The problem with Conspiracy Theories (again, my professional opinion) is that yes, there probably was a Democrat who thought this pandemic was a way to ruin Trump. Or someone in the Chinese government that saw this pandemic as to their advantage. Now, whether or not the media unilaterally conspired behind closed doors to do this as a unit is a ridiculous question. Some persons in the media did for certain. But scope is the problem. The scope is never large enough in these gray areas to support a conspiracy theory. The scope the Conspiracy Theorist needs to have a working theory is almost never there.
So yeah, Miss Conspiracy Theory, your theory is true to a small degree. But that’s not the whole story. You see, there is a bunch of other stuff going on outside of the thought framework you’re using that you’re not considering. So while we’re in a Pandemic during Jupiter In retrograde, there’s probably a little bit more to the story than that as being the cause of all this chaos.
Again, it’s about feeling like you’re in control. I get it. I have that need too.
So if you made it this far, you’re probably wondering “Hey you judgmental ass hat, where do you fit in all this?” And I’m probably being nice about your “thoughts”. Completely normal reaction. Truth be told, I see a little of myself in all of the above, but I don’t fit nicely into one COVIDality.
I thought some of the measures were a little extreme the state and federal government had taken at first. But if I was in charge and looking at the numbers that they were, I would have made similar decisions. As we begin discussing reopening the economy, I’m nervous.
I don’t know anyone that has gotten sick. I understand that we know very little about the virus and that a vaccine is at least 18 months out.
I get upset when I see someone not wearing a mask in public. I think to myself, “I’m not doing this for me, mask-less bro. You should wear a mask, too.”
I believe that even if I am as careful as possible (if there was a careful scale that went from 0-100 and 100 was the highest and I scored 100) all it would take was for someone to cough on a surface in public, for me to touch that surface and then scratch my eye and I’m infected.
I’m being … rational about it. Yeah. That’s it…
Just as in any group, it is important to get along with members of the other group. That is the purpose of identifying groups. Family members may fall into the Expert Group as they do for me. I still love them, even though they have all the answers and no one will listen to them! The benefit of “groups” is to understand their belief system so that you CAN connect with them. Not to say “Hey man, this is my side of the room…that’s yours (points across room).” Understand.
In closing, to the Expert, I wish someone would give you a public forum so that you could teach us all. Mr. Rational, please rethink your systems, you may have missed something. To the Conspiracy Theorist, I hope Netflix calls you about that special, the world needs to know. And to my lovely, Aloof, do what everyone else is telling you to do. It’ll save lives. Maybe yours. And to the Prophet, I really hope you’re wrong about the end times this time as well. But if your not, I guess… you were right! We should have listed before it was too late.
So I’ll let you decided where I belong. You’re going to anyway…