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  • Stevie Bee

Are we now afraid of each other and the world?

Updated: Jan 4

Has Covid-19 left us wary of each other, physical objects . . . and the world?


As I wrote in the blog back in late February, the coronavirus was given a name change to Covid-19 to set it apart from other coronaviruses out there. I focused on what the name change meant and how it might affect how we deal with the virus — not how it might affect us, aside from the health implications. I’ve only begun to see it more recently. As I observed people around me and my own behaviour, I began to notice we might have changed in ways that weren’t for the good. I'm hoping it’s only temporary, of course.

I’ll explain in a minute, but first: Covid-19 adds up to 31, known as The Hermit | Recluse. Simply put, 31 is self-contained, self-sufficient and isolated. It embodies a rejection of the “glittering promise of the world” for the peace and quiet of nature. Or, if less dramatic, it involves a degree of retreat from society in some manner. Even in a crowd, 31 reflects a sense of aloneness and isolation.

Isn’t that us now? Have we not become wary of each other, especially people we don’t know? Has physical distancing left us cautious of those we happen to pass by when shopping or when exercising or whatever we happen to be doing in public? I’ve been feeling it in shopping centres and in nature. A lot of us are shunning each other and even avoiding eye contact, let alone striking up a conversation — although thanks to our fondleslabs (our mobiles), not much of that happens at the best of times! Have we not been retreating? Are we becoming afraid to touch things, of being exposed to each other, to surfaces of all kinds? We’re certainly washing our hands and wiping surfaces at the drop of a hat. It’s as if the world around us is now contaminated or we think it might be or we’re told it might be. I'm even wondering if people might start to see nature itself as unclean. It doesn’t help when authorities, at one point, closed beaches to swimming — when physical distancing rules broke down — as if swimming in salt water was somehow more dangerous than running or walking on the sand.

As we slowly begin to ease restrictions in the long haul toward whatever the new normal is going to look like, I do wonder how long it’ll take us to feel ‘safe’ around each other and the world at large, including surfaces: park benches, bus shelter seats, hand rails, public transport, travel on planes, and so forth. How long before we trust each other to come closer? How long before we shake hands again, if ever? Maybe bumping elbows will replace handshaking. (Bit weird, in my book!) How long before we hug? And what about our relationship with the physical world, all those physical objects? Nature? People in other countries? It’s a big deal, because easing the lockdown to revive social life (and reopen the economy) relies on us not being afraid.

Or, is this an over-reaction? An unfounded fear? Am I seeing things that are just not there? What are you noticing? In yourself and in others?

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