No B.S Friday: This is why the Covid arguments make you nervous.
I was talking to a friend the other day, and she admitted that Covid was making her a nervous wreck. She was losing sleep over it.
And it wasn’t that she was worried about getting the virus, or worried that it might be a totalitarian power play dressed up as a virus.
No, what was stressing her out was how divided her community had become.
Her social and family circle (and I’m not talking about her Facebook feed which is even worse) had polarised.
People had set up in both camps. Pro-vax, anti-vax.
She was pro-vax herself – which is actually a funny way to say it. She’s not pro-vaccinations for the sake of it. She sees it as a really difficult choice that we have to make to avoid the worst affects of the pandemic. She’s not a cheerleader for Pfizer.
But she’s in that camp, and she’s now wondering if she can even be friends with the friends that have ended up on the other side of the fence.
And it’s not that she has anything against them. She does worry about creeping police powers too. But it just doesn’t seem like there’s room for conversation.
It’s a war and in any war you have to choose sides. Only Switzerland has the luxury of remaining neutral.
But as I said, we’re not talking semi-randoms on Facebook here. We’re talking about people that she’s known for 20 years.
And she lays in bed at night worry about it.
And I get it.
We’re a herd species. We instinctively gather into tribes for safety and connection and grooming. I don’t think lone-wolf humans really thrive that well.
And so we instinctively start to get very nervous if we’re cut off from our tribe. The tribe gives us our sense of safety in the world, and without it we feel a lot more insecure.
And when our tribe starts fighting – when we feel that those relationships we’ve spent 20 years cultivating might no longer be able to help keep us safe – it hits us deep in the nervous system.
It becomes very hard to relax.
(As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if there might be a gendered dimension to this. In times of danger, women invest in relationships, men invest in semi-automatic weapons. But I have learnt that I’m better off not talking about this kind of stuff.)
And from what I’ve witnessed, the Covid and Vax issue cuts across all sorts of political and social lines. I’ve seen nurses who are passionately anti-vax. I’ve seen mung-bean eating hippies posting selfies from the Vax clinic.
In a time like this, it’s hard to know where our tribe is.
And when we don’t know where our tribe is, like a monkey lost in the forest, we get anxious.
That’s what I reckon’s going on for a lot of people right now.
But I think it helps to name it. It helps to name and understand our anxiety.
And I think we can speak to it. Although this topic is a heated one, people are still fundamentally good and loving, no matter what they think, and through the mist of this confusion, our tribe’s still there.
And what to do?
Get off facebook. Stop looking at what people post in the heat of the moment.
Get on the phone and have a chat.
As always, the antidote is real, genuine connection.
Connection soothes the troubled monkey.