In a Crisis, People Adapt Quickly
At the moment there is a lot of talk about "social distancing": what it really means is physical distancing. Social gatherings, on the other hand, are more important in times of crisis than ever. It helps us to manage crises and to stay healthy when we join together in groups. We call it "social cure".
Those who looked into the media before the pandemic could sometimes get the impression that society is morally at its very end. Now people sing together on balconies and celebrate supermarket employees and nurses as heroes. Is this surprising or logical?
On the one hand, it is logical that in such a crisis we consciously deal with things that otherwise blend into everyday life – such as shopping. What is surprising is how calm people have been with the situation so far. People in the queues carefully keep their distance, and in front of the supermarket, they wait patiently until it is their turn.
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Humans have learned in the course of evolution that they can only survive if they join together in groups. This is deep in our genes. Each of us has a strong need to belong somewhere – this is even more evident in crises. On the other hand, in such a situation, the focus is also more on personal needs, and then selfishness comes to light. Both tendencies are not mutually common: I can act in solidarity and five minutes later turn out to be an egoist and make an ego panic buy with 20 packs of toilet paper, 100 pasta sauces, 500 bottles of water - and 10 guns.
The mood could change if there are supply shortages or too many deaths as a result of the infections. If there are many deaths as a result of the coronavirus, people will be even stricter in complying with the protection regulations. But, there could be panic buying and also increased domestic violence, because people have to get along in a confined space while at the same time they are afraid of their health or their job.
If people can only stay with family members in a small space, it is very much prison-like. Fortunately, everybody can stay in touch with those who are important to them outside their home, for example via Skype and Whatsapp: 15, 20 years ago, this was not the case. So, how do communities cope with such crises?
Reports from China, who have been suffering from the epidemic for months now, tell us that life there is going on. You are shocked at first, but then you stick to the rules very quickly and get used to them. One should not underestimate how quickly people adapt to new situations. If we are only allowed to stay outside with one other person, after two weeks we will not think every hour of being just with one other person and that we would prefer to be with four friends.
But what will happen, if the initial restrictions are abolished, but major events such as concerts and football matches remain banned?
Musicians, clubs and bands, theatres and opera houses are dealing with the crisis by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by digitalization. This is where we are at the very beginning. The crisis could lead to enjoy culture in other ways in the future. In football, that will not be the case. Many people will miss the games bitterly, and the financial consequences for the clubs are, of course, dramatic.
We can learn from the crisis. Perhaps there will be another boost in digitalization. This could also open up economic opportunities in a few months' time.
The corona crisis has changed our social behavior a great thing: shaking hands is taboo, hand washing is a citizen's duty, mouthguards are no longer quirky. Some things will surely be forgotten again quickly, for example keeping their distance in the queue. Others are more likely to pass into flesh and blood, such as hand washing, partly because we are now reminded of it with notes on every toilet, or wearing a mask in big crowds since we will see more and more people wearing them.
Western states have in recent days restricted civil liberties in an unprecedented way – as until then only in Asia. One can see in the Corona Crisis that authoritarian systems can sometimes lead to something positive. However, in the democratic, Western world, we should be more focused on people behaving sensibly on their own. In the first days of the crisis, this did not work for us, and then people appreciate it when politicians clearly say what is allowed and what is not. It is great to live in a free democratic world, but everybody needs to understand that he or she is a part of it: everybody needs to protect this free lifestyle with responsible behavior, with looking after each other and with listening to our government, even if we do not like living by rules and regulations which feel as being too tight. Sometimes you just need to do what you need to do: stay safe and healthy!
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Please note that FluShields can only pass on general information and cannot make any guarantees or be liable for any consequences of your decision making or behavior. Use good common sense and ask your health care provider or physician for advice.
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