One of the consequences of COVID amazes me: the absolute terror that rages through our society, resulting in a mild form of mass hysteria. Why this fear? Are we panicking because life suddenly turns out differently than we expected? Or is our taboo on dying and everything related to that, suddenly too close? It probably is a combination of factors this as well.
Creatures of habit
Humans are creatures of habit, which is a known fact. We prefer to keep things as they are as much as possible, because we know that. Even if better ways to tackle something are present, we have this aversion to change. “We know the old shit. We'll have to see what the new shit will bring us.”
The need for stability and predictability in the Netherlands is expressed, among other things, in the practice of thoroughly insuring ourselves. We have insurances for (almost) all eventualities in life. The most known insurances: liability insurance, cancellation insurance, cyber insurance. extra warranty on appliances, household / fire insurance, home insurance, death risk insurance, legal expenses insurance, travel insurance (whether or not continuous), dental insurance, funeral insurance, health care insurance, etc. You can have your vehicle(s) insured, from (regular or electric) bicycle, moped, car to caravan and/or boat. There is a separate valuables insurance, for valuables that you want to insure - in addition to the household insurance. You can also insure yourself for too little snow during the winter sports holiday or have a health insurance for your pet.
I have often heard it said: in the Netherlands we have arranged everything so well in scripts, protocols and insurances that we do not know what to do if something unexpected happens. Then we will have to improvise and we apparently have forgotten that because of our predictable and insured life.
And then the COVID pandemic happened. Due to the COVID pandemic and the COVID regulations, many people experience it as if the solid ground has disappeared from under their feet. Ordinary life has turned upside down so much that people feel completely shattered.
Fear of death
Dying is a difficult subject for many people, most of whom prefer to avoid it. I think that is a bit weird for the only certainty in our life. Dying is part of life, so at least one thing we know for sure: one day we will die. Yet we choose to ignore this one fact for as long as possible. Why are we so afraid of death?
I once heard a psychologist say that people who are afraid of dying are actually afraid of living. An interesting statement, which I have often thought of these weeks. Is our society so afraid of death indeed, because we are actually afraid of living?!
The social shattering manifests itself in a mild form of mass hysteria. For example, many started hoarding, causing many supermarkets to have a delivery problem. Especially products such as toilet paper and paracetamol are (still) hardly available. The empty shelves confirm the delusion for the need for hoarding, so this vicious circle maintains itself. Important fact: there are no shortages! However, because so many people are hoarding, supermarkets can't meet the sudden demand. So now we have shortages, purely because people hoard.
What about me?
As I wrote earlier, my life has hardly changed since the COVID regulations. Due to my disabilities, I have been mainly housebound for years. How everyone lives now because of COVID, is my normal.
Of course I think about my chances of infection, because my chronic illness puts me at increased risk. That is why I ensure sufficient humidity and good ventilation in my home. Because this considerably reduces the chance of infection, as various studies have shown.
I also keep my distance when my cleaning person comes. Fortunately, they keep working, because I wouldn't know what to do without them.
And of course I also keep my distance when I go shopping. Having groceries delivered is not an option, because a. delivery is completely overwhelmed too, and b. they don't deliver to my village anyway.
Basically I think very simply about it: it would be nice if I don't get a COVID. I do what I reasonably can do to reduce the risk. And if I do get it, I hope for the best. I refuse to allow COVID to gnaw at my quality of life!