Covid was the ‘Great Revealer.’ It showed the true character of countries, cities and people. It exposed weaknesses and strengths in various economies. Covid brought allies together while at the same time broke families apart. Perhaps it was more of the final straw for situations that were already headed in a particular direction.
I’ve grown closer to some people and distant with others I spent time with frequently prior to Covid. It has been a very polarizing and tragic crisis. But with every crisis, good comes from it. And there was no shortage of silver linings from Covid.
On the one hand, Covid has taught us a lot about who we are as a species… and about human behaviour when things get tough.
Fear is the greatest motivator, and it doesn’t take much of it to control lives. It was early in the pandemic, and I’ll never forget this moment… I was walking along a sidewalk, and a woman was about 25 metres away walking toward me. She was on the sidewalk too. When she looked up from her phone and saw me, she hopped off the sidewalk quickly to let me pass, keeping her eyes squarely on me the whole time. In other circumstances, that may be viewed as polite. But this was not that. This was someone who viewed me as a possible threat — potentially, I was a nasty germ.
Now, I know what some may say… Aaron, you’re reading into this too much; she was just practising social distancing. This sidewalk was massive, and we were outdoors. We could have maintained an acceptable social distance on that sidewalk. She did not need to hop off the sidewalk and create about 15ft of space between us. This was a fear-based, animalistic response to a potential threat. There was a dehumanizing element to it. For another example of the animalistic nature of humans when fear controls lives, look at how people began hoarding toilet paper…
2. There are summer soldiers and winter soldiers. Covid has magnified the standouts of society. Crisis brings out the cry babies and also the selfless grinders. It shows us who is real — who embraces life no matter what is happening — and those only when things are going well for them. I’m thankful to be around rugged people who can adapt to any circumstance with a smile on their faces.
3. To be healthy and live a full life, we need each other. I really enjoy time to myself — it’s critical for me. Having said that, lockdowns suck. Covid has shown me, in the most blatant way possible, that PEOPLE are my motivation. Collaborating with and helping others is why we are here. Life experiences are meant to be shared. A full life is a life full of relationships.
4. Confirmation bias is the most powerful force on the web. People want to be right and ‘win’ an argument more than they want to hear each other out and possibly learn from one another. Dominating another individual in a debate online seems to be all that matters — battering them into submission verbally.
Winning an argument (or at least the perception of winning) releases a minor hit of dopamine, and the trolls online are merely dopamine addicts.
The online Covid debates have shown this in the worst of ways. And because of the aggressive squabbling online over Covid and its related consequences, people congregate with like-minded people more often than not, further entrenching their beliefs without considering the other point of view.
Life is much better when you can have a respectful conversation with someone on the other end of the spectrum. None of us has all the answers, and with open minds, the entire world opens up.
5. Many people are self-absorbed, and that’s why they label others. Think of all the labels Covid has brought about — the most famous being the so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’. I know a few ‘anti-vaxxers’, and they’re a diverse bunch, very different in their personal beliefs and values.
When we label people, we destroy one of the most exciting things in life — exploring and learning about other people and cultures. Once we label them, our opinion of them becomes absolute. What a missed opportunity (refer back to point 3).
Humans are unique and very complex. You’d probably be offended if I summarized your entire existence with a label and assumed I’m an idiotic stereotyper. Despite that, humans continue to do this every day.
There are priests who love MMA, hunters who routinely eat vegetarian meals, and Democrats who voted for Donald Trump. Heck, some senior citizens listen to rap music. Never label human beings.
6. Humans are incredibly adaptable and can normalize new behaviours quickly. Five years ago, had I told you we’d be wearing masks in most indoor public areas and requiring proof of a particular vaccination to have a cup of java in your favourite coffee shop, you’d think I was nuts. Today, it’s second nature to put on a mask and pull out proof of vaccination. People don’t even think twice about it. This type of normalization (or adaptability) in humans can be viewed both positively and negatively. We are a resilient species, but we can also be somewhat robotic.
Covid exposed or, perhaps a better word to describe it, revealed human behaviour and instincts. But in the end, I think it has made us more aware of what matters in life. Hopefully, the pandemic ends soon, but the lessons learned from it will last a lifetime.