In public spaces and on the internet, pandemic fatigue and frustration is palpable. If the pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint, as some health professionals have suggested, there is an enormous, intimidating wall blocking the view of the finish line. In the jargon of runners, we have all hit the wall.
The wall is a mental or psychological thing, however, it’s ever-presence makes the obstacle almost feel physical.
Lately, public health protocols have been met with a strange defiance by some groups of people.
What inspires some folks to be against the measures that will eventually lead to renewed public health and, hopefully, a COVID-19-free world?
Pandemic protocols create barriers between us and what we need and want in life. It is fertile ground for frustration to thrive and, if left unattended, becomes self-harming negative emotions such as, for example, irritability, depression and aggressive behaviour.
Frustration is a flammable emotion without a warning label. With misinformation all over the internet providing the spark for anger to spread like a grassfire, some people are more vulnerable to the downward spiral of paranoia, stress and resentment, leading to a general mistrust of everything.
Everyone processes and emotes their anger differently. Someone might punch a punching bag until sweat drips from their chin. In fact, any athletics or physical play can be a healthy way to dissipate feelings of anger and other negative emotions.
In the vastness of an unreliable internet, some people ease their agitation by finding like-minded and misinformed comrades.
Chimpanzees act wildly aggressive only when experiencing the stress and agitation of captivity. When in their natural habitat, chimps communicate in a way that serves individual and group health.
The pandemic protocols have made many people feel like they have lost their freedom, almost captive. We have 98.8 per cent the same DNA as chimpanzees.
A general mistrust of sciences may be partly behind the opposition to vaccines. Not understanding how things work breeds fear of government and pharmaceutical companies’ motivations.
I cannot understand how a 447,700 ton airplane lifts me and almost 500 other people above the clouds, across continents and lands safely after a 12,493 kilometre smooth trip. I can’t grasp the science, however, I will fly again and feel safe doing so.
At some point you have to take the leap and trust the scientists and medical institutions that understand the nature of a virus and how it will travel from human host to another host.
When we, as a global society, eradicate the COVID-19 virus from all the countries of the world, rich and poor, it will be unifying. It can be a template for future multinational health projects.
We are closer to returning to normalcy, however, the new normal will not look much like the old normal, and that is a good thing.
Together we are closer to the finish line and together we will lift this heavy pandemic fatigue and celebrate the lightness, at the recommended social distance.
Robert Skender is a qathet region freelance writer and health commentator.