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The pandemic and its corrosive fallout

Bikram Vohra
Filed on August 27, 2020

A certain numbness cascades in and envelopes us. It is rather like ongoing traumatic stress disorder where we lose the empathy that once lubricated our sentiments

Covid has shovelled so much icy horror at us that it has frozen the synapses and hardened our natural responses. To a great extent we take things that would have made us stumble in our stride so powerful is the overload. Take sickness. News about folks getting cardiac arrests, strokes, diabetes, kidney issues, whatever and suddenly there is no information about it, like it has all dried up. Even our emotions are a thin stream, a trickle at best. This is the viral season and no one really seems seized by the array of flu choices that usually hit us even at the change of season of high pollen time.

I read the other day that even stand-up comics have lost the plot and do not know what jokes are politically correct and what is taboo.

We take death as a stat. Oh, really, so sorry, was it Covid?

No, it wasn't this damn blight, it was cancer, okay, the normal era's Big C, remember. Still happens, none of that has gone away.

Someone passes away we are not even allowed to grieve normally. So we behave abnormally, get stoic and shell shocked; we cannot get ourselves all wound up. Oops sorry to hear, there is so much of it going around.

How things have changed? And that includes our reactions to situations. Calamities have shrunk in their impact, forest fires, collapsed buildings, crashed planes, hurricanes, typhoons, the utterances of Donald Trump, same difference.

Even our enthusiasm for triumphs is jaded and weary, like oh, okay, congratulations on the wedding, the arrival of the baby, the winning of the grand lottery, wear your mask, now.

All the free advice sites give you babble about mental agony. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. 

Yes, all of that but the rub lies in our becoming inured to feelings. A certain numbness cascades in and envelopes us. It is rather like ongoing traumatic stress disorder where we lose the empathy that once lubricated our sentiments. Add to it a bit of Stockholm Syndrome where we curry favour with our captors and then identify with them and even cuddle up to them and you can see where this is going.we are cosying up to Covid and trying so pathetically hard to flatter it in the hope it then stays away from calling our number. In that effort, the standard code of conduct has crumpled to become unrecognisable. Even Usain Bolt getting the virus is met with a run of the mill shrug, like okay, who's next.

This corrosive indifference is probably a defense mechanism that we are employing to stop us from being hurt further and to prevent any further bonfires of not just our vanities but also our sensitivities. The sad part is we still have tea but where is the sympathy. -bikram@khaleejtimes.com 

 


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