Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Time to Be Calm, Positive and Hopeful During the Coronavirus Pandemic


My hope is this will be my lone post about the coronavirus pandemic that is currently shaking up all our lives. My desire to not write about Covid-19 constantly on here is the same reason that a few years ago, I decided to stop writing about politics: it is almost all negative, thousands of other people seem to write about it endlessly and it mostly just makes me miserable.

But the pandemic is our reality right now, so I felt the urge to offer up some of my thoughts in hopes that it will offer some value. Even if that value is just me burping out my emotions, so I don't feel the need to rattle off endlessly about the virus to my poor family who are trapped with me for the next several weeks (or months).

I get it. We're scared. Unless you live in a shack deep in the dark forest then your life has experienced some significant changes. I don't like change either, I'm still coming to terms with the end of Saturday Morning Cartoons and that happened over a decade ago. Right now, the best thing we can do is stay at home with our immediate family, and one of the worse things you can do while stuck at home is panic and worry to the point of an anxiety attack or stew in negativity to the point you trigger depression. We don't need anymore medical emergencies right now (though, we don't really need them ever in case you're misunderstanding me that I'm recommending you try a few out after this pandemic).

Stay safe. Be smart, Stay informed. Wash your wash hands constantly. Practice social distancing by remaining home when you can and cancelling those in-person social engagements. You've probably heard it all one thousand times, because I know that is basically all that is being posted on social media. You don't need me to be that broken record. Though beating a point down to pebbles is something that my wife, Emily, says I am an expert, so I can understand why some people feel the urge to say the same thing over and over and over again.

I know that we need to stay informed and I've been a champion for keeping up with news, and we need to stay on top of major findings and events now more than any other time in recent history. But we can't obsess about it either. A few minutes check of the major facts from reliable and trusted sources (not crazy Uncle Pete's Facebook timeline) is all you need. You need to avoid information burnout, plus wallowing in Covid-19 news all day will force any sane person to want to start constructing a rocket ship pointed at the moon. We don't need a mass of failed moon launch deaths and a whole lot of metal litter to add to current problems, thanks.

There is also an urge to smarten up those people that are still thinking they can live the day to day like they were back a few weeks ago (or even a week ago). I see all the Facebook posts about the need for social distancing and how Canada or the United States are only a week away from being as bad as Italy right now (if you live in Italy, I send you my love and prayers and positive energy). I've read some saying that they keep posting the links or going on 'social distance' tangents in a hope that they can scare people into staying home and not risking the health of our high-risk population. I understand the posts are coming from a sincere place and also one from fear, as they're desperate to get real social change to flatten that curve.

But fear isn't the way to do it. Fear almost never produces good results. Fear causes people to buy fifty cases of toilet paper and keep it all to themselves. Fear is what will turn us from having enough food and supplies for everyone to there being a massive shortage (just buy what you need, please). Fear makes our survival instincts kick in and we become self-centred. Fear causes panic and anxiety and serious mental issues. Along with a very real and dangerous virus, we don't need fear too.

The problem is that people who decided that the coronavirus is overblown and not a big deal, have also stopped reading your posts about the virus days or maybe even weeks ago. The more you push how catastrophic things are, then the more they tune out and feel it is all hyperbole. The more you try to guilt trip them by saying they are risking their parents' or grandparents' lives then the more they have hostile feelings towards you and trust you less. Instead, what all your links are doing right now is adding more fear and panic and worry and anxiety to the people that are already believing it and following the proper protocol. Trust me, the only people reading about the coronavirus are the ones that are practicing social distancing and may already be scared out of their minds.

You have a personal experience or there is new reliable information to post or you just need to get your feelings about it out, then by all means post on Facebook or Twitter. But maybe don't do it six times a day. Maybe even skip a day. When you hold off on your fiftieth plea about the coronavirus, replace it with a cute picture of your kid or dog or cat. Share something wonderful you did with your family today or maybe give people a great recommendation for a new novel or suggest a game you can play at home. It is time to bring a little bit of joy and optimism to social media, and prevent everyone from feeling they're just in the prequel to Mad Max.

It is a time for us to come together (not physically, mind you) and support each other. It is the easiest time in history to be a hero. You're helping to win the fight and saving lives by staying home and watching Netflix. If you are still doubting this is real or tired of the fear mongering, then see this as a chance to show your love to your fellow human beings. Just humour all of us that are scared and feel it is a threat. For an introvert, this is the greatest way to show love by just staying away from people. Do your part in helping others by following the protocols being announced.

We also may live in the greatest time to be a shut-in. We've got phones, email, Skype, FaceTime and texting. This really is a time when we need each others' support. It is going to get lonely being stuck at home with just your immediate family and in some cases, all by yourself. Today is the day to let someone know how much you love and appreciate them. Then you do it again in a few days and then a few days after that. Let the grandparents see the kids over Skype and get in touch with that friend that you've been meaning to see for months. We don't need to have a mental health epidemic after this virus, so to really show we are united, make sure to keep in touch with all those you love. When this is all over, keep on doing that.

And don't talk about the coronavirus. There is about hundred million more topics in the world worth discussing.

Though if you're like me, you do have loved ones who are doctors and health care professionals, and they're encountering the virus every single day. They may need to vent and unload their emotions. If you can handle that, they really need our support and love too. Dad, Lucas, Catherine and many people I've known through the years, I love you and you're real life heroes right now.

This is a time to be a supportive community even if we aren't physically together. Not only should you make that phone call to a loved one, but if there are people you know that are struggling then find ways to help. You can order them their groceries or pick up some supplies for them (then sanitize the packages and leave them at the door, obviously). Generosity, kindness and compassion are so much more powerful than selfishness, indifference and callousness.

While your stuck at home, be sure to hug your kids. Find a hobby you can share together. Play that board game that was collecting dust. Have that movie night on the couch you kept promising. Walk the dogs together or take a family hike. Make some lasting memories with your immediate family. Spending that quality time together will eat up all that time you would have spent worrying and make you feel a lot better.

Speaking of support, don't forget your local businesses or favourite creative folks. The economy is going to take a huge hit in the coming months. There are businesses that likely are doomed to go under. There are people that are losing jobs. If you can, maybe order a few things online, buy gift certificates to use later or join a Patreon run by your favourite artist or writer. Buy that book from the author you love or rent that independent movie from a favourite up and coming director. If you can afford to spend some money, then do what you can to help those who will be struggling during a time when people aren't buying things or supporting creators and artists.

Personally, as a freelancer, I'm seeing sales copy work dry up because businesses aren't spending on ads when people aren't buying stuff. With movie theatres shutdown, there aren't new releases for me to write about for magazines and sites. I am far from the only one. Support when and where you can, because you'll probably be helping people you care about rather than just a faceless giant conglomerate.

Even though I've been hesitant on putting ads on the site or making a Patreon, I may now be forced to give it shot. This also means I plan on writing a lot more on here and will start doing a few more podcasts. If you're stuck home anyway, then you mind as well read and listen to me more than usual, right? If you want to support me then I promise I won't sneeze in your direction (I won't if you don't want to either -- I'm not threatening you, honest).

But most of all, realize love and kindness kicks ass. It is the coolest stuff in the whole world. Please show it. We will unite. We will overcome this. Things are going to get better eventually and we will be stronger after the virus passes.  It will pass. Everyone do your part to help keep all around us healthy not just from the virus but also mentally and emotionally. When we look back at this year, let it be remembered as a time we overcame adversity and showed the goodness in humanity. I have in faith in us, the universe and God.

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