I am not a psychologist but…
Different people are affected by the pandemic differently. Its well known that in excessive stress we resort to our areas of strength, yet overall performance drops. With a shift of priorities our weaknesses may freeze up.
Many people are changing jobs now while others are not going back to work, and still others are preferring to work from the comforts of home. More than 40 per cent of workers had found their work meaningless even prior to the pandemic.
This job changing and other actions may be because these people (us) have been thrown into a new frame of reference. Pandemic conditions have been a catalyst for personal change, for better or worse. Things aren’t working. Try something else.
Our subconscious minds are telling us we need to express that inner self, and actualize our potential against or in spite of the constraints set upon us.
We are natural value generators. Our genes expect a fair give and take, a reciprocity. That is the survival mechanism of social animals. The fact that we resort to areas of strengths means we then specialize. It is the division of labour, as well as symbolic communication, that made civilization possible.
Like schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of cattle, we seek and join our pack for mutual aid and defense. We seek fellow travelers for mutual aid against the threats. We share common values and complementary talents. When our brains specialize we are preparing to collaborate with people who have different strengths so we can then create a collective intelligence through synergy. A new social organization emerges.
That collective intelligence provides heightened strategy framework and a sense of productive flow. In days of old our warriors would gather and rehearse war tactics. They held war dances and wrestling matches to not only improve personal and collective performance but to anchor a bond of trust and spontaneous synchronicity. They marched in rhythmic unison. They discovered personal strengths and reassigned the warriors for different roles.
Women prepared and practiced defense of the home and village. They sang in chorus and danced in choreography to retell stories of past successes against the odds. They cheered their warriors to pump their testosterone for battle. Men watched to know what they were fighting for.
The collective action calls for coordination. Historically that comes from our known leadership, the confident charismatic ones who maintain the big picture, decide a course of action and set a compelling vision. Managers assemble the crew and delegate pieces of the puzzle. Workers and warriors take up the charge with communal pride.
We experience a need to control our spaces. We may wish we could look the leaders in the eyes and assess their character and demeanor. This is not realistic in today’s world. We are left to mass media and social media spin and contort. We hold little more than a thread of truth.
Politicians, CEOs and other leaders may feel extra pressure and need to exert their authority. We may see some drama. But in the flood of drama, this becomes the new normal. Civilization may be permanently changed. The historians may never know what really happened in these chaotic times.
But we now find ourselves isolated and unable to talk openly lest we hit a raw nerve on any given controversy… and there are many in a world of uncertainty. Bonding has lapsed, community disintegrated. There is an instinctive drive to compromise, conform and comply to support the common good. Trust our leaders, even as they argue, as solidarity against the common enemy is paramount.
Personally, I have always been a freak. I have the rarest personality profile, shared with just one percent of the population. I truly am misunderstood (poor me!). I learned this early in life. I do not expect anyone to listen to me, let alone accept what I have to say. But now I feel no delusions about my assessment of today’s human condition. I must speak out.
This over-analyzer has spent a lifetime studying human nature and the changing human condition so I can protect my hyper-sensitive self. Knowledge is power. I have studied the Nature of time and space, energy and information, knowledge and value, cybernetics and systems theory. I have studied enough physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and social science to know that the changes we have been facing started long before covid-19, hundreds of years ago. We face an accelerating accumulation of knowledge, technology, values and beliefs. We are over-taxed with processing complexity and uncertainty. Covid is just the latest “straw”.
In the past few decades we just have started to realize the implications of accelerating civil complexity. We have faced information overload, burnout, cocooning, FOMO (fear of missing out), impostor syndrome, and snowflakes (what else am I missing?). We all thought we were good at managing disruptions… to a point. But then we saw clinical studies that showed that multitasking causes your IQ to drop by 10 to 15 per cent.
We delude ourselves about how well we are managing. To a point, deluding oneself works. It helps us stay confident, focused and productive. But if deluding becomes a habit we get really good at it and repeat constantly. It gets easier to delude oneself. Denial becomes a crutch and we no longer see reality in a constructive manner.
We need to gather and talk about our common struggles.