Love In The Time Of Coronavirus

It gets wilder by the day, doesn’t it? I have an idea for an “unintended consequences” post, but for now, I’m just trying to remind myself that this is an opportunity.

It’s an opportunity to demonstrate kindness. We are all isolated, socially distanced and probably at least a little worried.

I don’t see why we wouldn’t take that time to reach out to the few people we are in contact, or at least, support one another online.

Hell, lighten things up a little. COVID-19 is serious, yes, but if our choices are sitting around in fear and trying to make the best of it?

I’ll take the latter.

Part of that is self-preservation. I’ve suffered too many years on and off from depression that self-isolation can and often is very destructive for me.

I’m an introvert by nature. My default is to withdraw. Historically, that helps me recharge – in small doses. In large doses, I completely alienate myself from others and sink into crippling depression.

Depression requires connection and perspective to solve. When you’re alone constantly, perspective can be difficult to come by. When you’re in a depression or anxiety spiral, it’s damn near impossible.

So, my focus has been to focus on seeing the bigger picture. Connection’s kind of out, so perspective on the larger whole is required, as is lightening the mood.

Memes help. I saw people complaining about people posting memes, thinking they’re not taking this threat as seriously as they should. I couldn’t help but feel some of that was directed at me.

And I thought… fuck ’em. I’m doing it for the reasons above. I’m not denying the existence or severity of this thing. I’m following all the suggestions. We’re staying home. We cancelled a trip. I’m working largely in isolation.

And I’m not posting things telling people to go out. I’m joking about toilet paper hoarders (for a respiratory disease).

To me, that’s relatively harmless and even helps bring some much needed lightening to the situation. To me, the people constantly throwing up posts intended to create fear and panic are much greater threats to the populace than some stupid meme about toilet paper.

For people who suffer already from mental issues like depression and anxiety, that kind of stuff can be nothing short of insidious and cause issues that could reverberate well past the time this crisis is over.

Suicide kills between 800 000 and a million people yearly, far more than this virus will ever claim. I would like, when this is all over, for those same people holding down the panic siren and shaming people for posting memes to show the same level of engagement with mental health, especially given the impact their current behaviour is likely having.

(And without shaming, because anyone who knows anything about mental health knows that shaming is one of the most destructive things a person can do to someone suffering.)

Sadly, knowing most of the individuals doing this sort of thing, their level of engagement is intended more to appeal to their sanctimony than actually helping anyone. If it were the latter, I suspect the approach would be more reassuring than frightening, and definitely less shaming.

Of course, the likelihood of that happening more than once a year when they share their obligatory post on #BellLetsTalk day, to show just how much they “care” about others’ mental states, is highly unlikely.

Sorry. I’m a little bitter about the one day a year most people suddenly pretend to care about others’ mental health by rewteeting or sharing a corporation-made hashtag, instead of you know… actually helping someone who needs it at literally any other point in the year.

Plus, if you know anything about Bell, you know that they’ve probably caused more mental health problems than they could ever solve. They are among the worst and most exploitive companies in Canada.

Forgive me if I’m a little jaded at the hypocrisy.

I will, however, in this time of crisis, show a little love for myself and for those around me who need it, who need a shoulder to lean on, who need advice relayed from reputable sources and not random Facebook posts. People who do the math and understand the bigger picture, and all the potential unintended consequences of this thing and everything that goes with it.

Because there’s an opportunity here. Not to be some malicious denier who keeps going out on the town because “ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do”, and not to be some hysteria and panic-inducing fearmonger who’s more interested in social signalling than actual help, regardless of the collateral damage (i.e., the emotional and mental health of those around them).

We have an opportunity to be better. To remain calm, think clearly and above all, show some real thought and compassion toward others in this difficult period. Because this thing could turn into Mad Max.

But it could also be the impetus from something truly evolutionary. We could finally put our own egos aside and start helping one another. Reject the dividers and the fearmongers and the entitled idiots.

Pay close attention to who is helping and who is serving themselves in this period. Does company X shit on its employees or save them? Does that politician support measures that help individual workers and small businesses through these tough times, or are they trying to bail out big oil and offload even more cash to the rich? Does that person posting over and over about the virus actually desire resolution or are they just trying to be the loudest voice in the room?

This virus can spread more than infectious disease. It can spread our downfall, by letting us feed into our base emotions (greed, hate, division, myopia, panic, fear, entitlement) or it can spread love, by providing us with the opportunity to be and do better (help, show kindness, donate time, resources, a listening ear).

Stuck inside as we are, we can still try for reason and love and connection. We just have to pray that the rest of the world eventually does the same.

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