You have choice about who is in your bubble.
Most of us choose the people who share our living space.
- We can choose who we call on the phone and who we pick up the phone for.
- We can choose to video meet for work and social contacts via video meeting software, like Zoom, Google Hangout, or Facetime.
- We can choose whether we engage in social media. We have some control about who is in our communities there; but not total control.
From feedback I get, most of my readers are in a safe bubble. Most have health insurance. Nearly all are secure that they can pay for food for the next six months. Only some will need to scramble for rent or mortgage in the next six months. That is far better than roughly half of all Americans, who live paycheck to paycheck.
Outside the Bubble.
Because of Covid-19, stepping outside one’s house puts you outside your bubble. I am hearing about people getting into conflict about people they see in their communities. There is a high level of anger and fear behind these judgments:
- Judgment about the importance of maintaining, and the way to maintain, a six-foot distance in public places, especially recreational spaces like the bike path.
- Judgment about whether people are wearing masks.
- Judgment about whether people who are walking together are from the same household. (The assumption is that they are not, and therefore they are doing the wrong thing).
- Judgment about supermarkets and retail. Do management choices about how to enforce social distancing meet your standards? Do staff behaviors meet your standards?
- Judgment about whether the rules are valid and judgment about the people who make them. For example: using disposable bags for the duration.
- Judgment about behaviors that are directly related to people’s personal Covid 19 responses. Examples: photos of discarded gloves in shopping carts and in the street, pictures of people sitting or standing closely together, jokes about people who don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom (which has nothing to do with this!), jokes about hoarding…
- Judgment about other people feeling they have the right to judge!
Chances are, you are feeling anger against strangers and you are finding ways to group them as different than you. It’s a human thing called “othering.” (Read more about othering here).
What to do with the fear and anger.
The “enemy” is a virus. That’s an invisible thing.
Resist your urge to make the enemy a person, or a group of people. I know, you’re going to say you are not a hater. But, think. Have you in the past month grouped people in a derisive way? Have you been angry at those joggers who come too close? Those college kids that went to the beach on spring break? Those grocery store employees who aren’t using the sanitizer between every shopper? Those self-important Davis Square types?
When we are not in control, it is a natural thing to want to have someone to blame if the worst thing happens. You know that you are doing what you can to stay healthy through this. So if you get sick, it will feel better if you can blame someone else for being sloppy about taking precautions, right?
You don’t have to be a hater to feel the fear and anger right now. Fear and the anger grow worse, the bigger the personal threat. It is harder to let go if you are out of work and have no savings, if you have no health insurance, if you are afraid to go to the hospital because of your immigration status, or if you can’t pay your next month’s rent or mortgage.
The fear and anger is big. The longer this goes on and the bigger the economic hit a person takes, the bigger the anger. When the stay-at-home is over, this hate will hit the streets.
Toxic expressions of this fear and anger.
It is already happening. There are increased reports of verbal harassment of Chinese and other Asian people and Chinese-American and other Asian-American people throughout the country. There has also been a hate crime attempted murder.
When this is over, incidents are likely to go up, not down. Please be ready.