A short piece on stress and self-isolation
If there is ever a moment for modern humanity to work together for the common good this is it. Quite a sharp statement. A World War has been declared, but not of the kind we would have expected – a secret and silent enemy that crosses borders with impunity – a monster within, disguised in a simple cough. All of humanity rising up against the rising body invader.
We are having to live a different way to that of what we are used to. I met someone I knew yesterday in the street and gestured to him to shake hands, forgetting the cardinal rule of no touch. We are after all social creatures and the prospect of isolating for long periods is horrifying me.
It’s probably fair to say that most of us are a little more than concerned. I’m having trouble sleeping myself. We all have different ways with coping with stress. I have always found writing about what concerns me helps me rationalise and de-stress. So here I am. On a disinfected laptop. Isolated. I am reminded of E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops who writes how humans have lost the ability to live on the earth, dependent on their machines and out of touch with nature. Each individual living in isolation below ground in a standard room, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine (what can be seen today as the Internet). Travel is permitted but is unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine with which people conduct their only activity: the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge. Forster was writing back in the 19th century but he seems to have forecasted correctly. Here we are all about to “self-isolate”.
When times get hard, we see ourselves at our very worst and very best. A looting like mentality of panic buyers selfishly snatching like rats in a sinking ship, but also others who have gone out of their way to check on their neighbour’s welfare.
There is too much information on social media. Most of it posted means well but I think I will consciously limit myself to just a few sources to take back mental control. If our stress has been created with us feeling out of control, we can use trust to help us regain it. My view is that we need to look to the science and the numbers for answers, nothing more. The scientists help us identify the facts and the numbers will help us forecast the future. This helps for a clearer mind.
I’m sure we will get through this as we have done with other major disasters. Humanity has survived so far on adaptability and ingenuity. We will work together to defeat COVID-19 sooner rather than later and we will learn from the experiences. Unlike Forster’s The Machine Stops we will emerge to the Earth’s surface again, yet hopefully with a greater understanding on how to care for it and each other.
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