coronavirus chronicles #2

Some house-keeping: 

The mood of this blog post: Structured sentences. Headers remain. More academic, less prose-inclined.
Incentive: It’s not normal for me to blog frequently and publically. Perhaps, I’ll reveal something interesting and complex about myself. If you stumble upon such a discovery, please let me know. I too enjoy psychoanalyzing myself.

Story-telling: I’m not much of a real-time narrator. I am more comfortable with op-eds and scientific papers and text message conversations. They’re contained and predictable. What I’m finding difficult about narrating these chronicles is that I don’t know what this story is about. It’s telling itself. I am along for the ride. I am just hoping I didn’t pick up one with a sad ending. And perhaps, at the end of all of this, I’ll benefit from hindsight and lessons learned. I’ll be able to reflect succinctly, articulate my thoughts, and write convincingly. For now, my thoughts are a steady stream that I am willing to swim along.

The five stages of grieving corona: Tracy, my best friend from elementary school, and I were chatting on the phone about how 2020 sucks. Once we had that out there, we moved on to retrospectively think about the question: “Did we know this was coming?”

She suggested that we both were in a Kübler-Ross Grief cycle, which I think is highly likely for not only us but also the Chinese and U.S. government. We all knew something was up, informed by families in China or the media. We at first denied it (Oh no, it won’t happen here. Trump: It’s a hoax. China: This is not another SARS). We were angry at something (The government, ourselves, our schools, the injustice felt in losing life as we knew it). And perhaps, now we’re somewhere amid depression (I spent a fair bit of my evenings crying…and I’m not a crier), bargaining (We both reach out friends and this blog is probably a manifestation of “telling one’s story), and acceptance (We are community organizing. We’re adapting). I think there is something important in calling this a cycle, as opposed to a pathway or journey. Next week, stay tuned to see I’m back in denial!

Credit: Wikipedia

Under pressure: I’ve been noticing competing trends on my Instagram feed. Some are all-consumed in normal life while others have replaced pictures of dogs, day-in-the-life snapshots, and lunch with coronavirus articles. Keywords include “social distancing” and “unprecedented.” I can’t help but feel frustrated when I see people not do what they’re supposed to be…doing? Some say it’s a coping mechanism for anxiety to go on vacation: to shirk public health responsibilities and escape this dismal reality. Others say it’s plain selfish. What I do know is that numbers, according to modeling by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, are grim if we all don’t adopt drastic measures of social distancing, home quarantine, and case isolation.

So what is a millennial to do? I obviously have an opinion, but whether people care about my thoughts is debatable. What’s more, voicing an opinion, especially when trying to motivate a behavior change, isn’t helpful. Unless, perhaps, your opinion is valued by that individual insofar the person seeks your approval.

Alas, the answer is probably not to DM someone and vocalize my frustrations with their actions. That approach is probably both unwelcome and ineffective. What I do think is effective is simply posting what you are doing and voicing the values behind why (i.e., I am social distancing because I think it’s the best way I can help save lives or reduce the spread of the virus). Pressure over shaming.

I also am thinking a lot about what kindness and patience means amid a pandemic. Amid an almost paralyzing uncertainty, I have to think about how I can be kind, not to just with people who are the same page as me. More on that on chronicle #3.

Thoughts on opinions & behaviors: Late last year, in one of the group meetings I now miss terribly, I had the opportunity to learn from some incredibly-minded decision-making scientists. Here are articles that explore opinions, behaviors, and social pressure — for your own curiosity if you get bored of that new quarantine hobby.

On solidarity: I’ve seen a couple of people post on Facebook: #WeBeforeMe.” I think that’s beautiful. America isn’t much of a communitarian culture; it’s truly individualistic. Individualism and infectious disease is not a well-paired combination; social distancing, home quarantines, and general public health measures require sacrificing personal, civil liberties for the common good. Of course, the insult to autonomy leaves a bad taste in many’s mouths. I’m hoping “to save millions of people from suffering or death” is a good enough mouthwash.

In our afternoon conversation, Tracy reminded me to consider resilience. Solidarity and resilience do pair well. This pandemic is a shared experience, and our solutions rely on the community working together. I think we have a choice to push forth, be resilient, and succeed or to think about ourselves and face the consequences.

Much love to you and yours. Wash your hands. Keep safe. Do what you can.

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