Mass Psychology and a Silver Lining Around a Corona
There are two main dimensions to all this: psychological and political.
To date all the states that have been “closed down” have been those run by Democrats. Of course, Republican states do have Jesus on their side – so that will be fine for them.
The Economist reports that there is a wide differential between how those on the political left verses how those on the right perceive and adjust to the changes brought about by the virus which, until Fox News’ about face in the last week was portrayed as a Democratic Party plot. Now Trump’s “Stupid Party” (Bobby Jindal, Republican, LA) are actively dangerous.
This might be Trump’s “Katrina” – but worse. How many voters really cared about drowning poor people, minorities mainly, in a small part of Louisiana? It was bad optics, sure, but it wasn’t this. With coronavirus everybody is effected and it is at times like these the humans look up the hierarchy to their national leaders first, expectantly. Good luck with that!
This is the first real crisis this administration has approached that Trump himself didn’t cause and he is spectacularly, hilariously unfit for the challenge. To quote The Big Lebowski: “You’re in over your head, Donny.”
It might kick him out of office in November, particularly in the eyes of the Republican-voting, older evangelical “Fox News demographic”- the “over 67s” – who are most at risk.
Further, this has cascades of unintended consequences. Let’s assume a “shadow of fear” still hangs over us in November. It’s quite possible more states will allow, encourage or even mandate postal voting which is extremely helpful to the Democratic Party. A national shift towards postal or early voting – and its publication – would be a total game changer and could happily be the end of the Trump mis-administration.
We can confidently predict Trump will soon replace Dr. Faucci, America’s hero of the moment if Dr. Faucci keeps contradicting Trump’s narcissistic narratives or stupidity. That has been Trump’s habit to date: to replace the “deep state” (i.e “the rule of law”) with some wing-nut conspiracy theorist or maybe a former beauty queen whom we can be sure will be a “10” – but not necessarily qualified.
“All the best people!” – remember Trump promising? Goodness – Trump’s very communication director Bill Shine and his wife are vocal anti-vaxers and Trumpworld is a symphony of incompetence and graft at the best of times.
Unprecedented in modern times the coronavirus is like an experiment in mass psychology being run on the entire planet. Most notably it has shifted the whole bell curve of “neurosis” as a personality trait several notches to the right.
Everybody is at some level of neurosis – that being the inability to handle anxiety: to not be able to process enough of the anxiety one feels and we all fall somewhere on a bell curve distribution of neurosis as a personality trait. The coronavirus disruption rattles even individuals on the most stable, left hand side of the curve a bit, destabilizes the large middle section of folks and the hothouse flowers, panic merchants and screaming meemis on the right side of the bell curve go (as psychologists say) bananas.
Apocalyptic thinking is easy for many. Consider the almost constant diet of thousands of civilization ending movies we’ve watched to frighten ourselves for fun over the past century. Many people have a hard time separating fiction from reality and when faced with lifestyle changes and empty city centers will actually imagine The End Days are upon us.
This delusion is exacerbated, of course, by religion: Not just (still!) mixing the infected with the uninfected in “prayer”, but all three monotheistic religions routinely terrify people with the “End of Days” from their pulpits and nonsense books: the Bible, Koran and Talmud. Again we see religion – particularly the toxic monotheisms and their obsession with Armageddon -actually harming- humanity in so many ways.
Prudent, temporary and essential public health changes are easy merged into fever dreams of the Zombie Apocalypse for the half of America who think that an AR-15 is their idea of neighborliness. This is the neurosis bell curve slipping to the right side of the graph as explained above.
A silver lining is the mass lesson we are collectively receiving in the importance of basic hygiene. A public hand washing deficiency has been known to medical science for decades and takes many lives worldwide. A renaissance of hand-washing may, in the long run, save more lives than this virus claims.
Another advantage is the development of the psychological “mass muscle memory” in handling these epidemics which due to climate change will probably be more frequent in future. Learning now how to “social distance”, close schools, resist panic buying, recompense workers, particularly at the lower pay levels and rescuing industries are all-important and long needed.
It is also quite possible public sentiment will turn harshly against anti-vaxers who will be exposed as the dangerous idiots they are.
It’s our personal responsibility towards our own health and immunity (cortisol – remember) to pull ourselves to the left side of the neurosis bell curve: to be calm and not get our health information from preachers, “mommy wellness blogs” or damnable Gwyneth. It’s very important to calm down some of our more hysterical friends and relations. Use a broom to pull them down from the ceiling if necessary.
In a few months when this is mainly over people will remember who lost their heads and who didn’t and in the mean time we can sit at home in lockdown and enjoy Netflix or Pornhub. To quote John Lennon: “Whatever gets you through the night, ‘s alright.” So we’ll hunker down with all the toilet paper we can eat washed down with shots of delicious Purel and look forward to normality again.