Disclaimer: This post contains no medical advice whatsoever.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first proposed 5 stages of grief and loss in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. While people who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them, the 5 stages she identified are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.
In observing the widely differing reactions to COVID-19, there appear to be 7 different types of cognitive responses to Coronavirus — which type do you most closely match?
While you may not fully understand what’s unfolding, you know that the deadly virus originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China and is spreading rapidly throughout the world. To avoid contamination one must stay at home, practice social distancing and wear a mask outdoors. The authorities have our best interests at heart and should be obeyed. The best way to keep updated about the pandemic is via television, newspapers, radio and occasionally social media.
You view the virus as a nuisance and you’re continuing business as usual. You’re not particularly interested in keeping updated and you’re doing the best you can to keep things running the way they were.
You’ve heard people questioning the official Coronavirus account and you agree that something doesn’t quite add up, but the busy-ness of life has prevented you from exploring these claims any further.
You are deeply suspicious that the official account of SARS-CoV-2 accurately reflects reality. This is an intuitive feeling, but you haven’t yet found anything concrete to base your suspicions on. You generally avoid television, newspapers and radio as your primary source of coronavirus information.
You have seen a number of credible sources debunking the official coronavirus account and you’ve begun discussing these discrepancies with people you know and trust, but you wouldn’t say anything publicly.
You’re taking your distrust in the official COVID-19 story seriously and have started posting or discussing your concerns in public forums.
You vehemently disagree with the official account of the severity of SARS-CoV-2. You have done your research and know that SARS-CoV-2 is simply following the Problem-Reaction-Solution playbook and you are publicly calling this out. You recognise that SARS-CoV-2 is a cover for a systemic dysfunction. You have no hesitation making what you know public and you are doing everything you can to make others aware of the race between a dystopian future and a protopian future.
So, which #COVIDcolor are you?
And more importantly, would you display your color publicly? Displaying your COVID-19 mindset sends a signal to others (more about this in a bit). You can do so easily by adding a frame to your Facebook profile image:
- Go to your Facebook profile.
- Hover over your image and click the photo to update it
- Click Add Frame.
- Search for “COVIDcolor” and select from Red, Orange, Yellow or Green.
- Change “Switch back to previous profile picture in…” if required.
- Click “Use as Profile Picture”
- Post a status update and nominate a friend or someone you know to do the same. Remember to add the URL of this article so they have the context.
The Science of Signals (or why this matters)
In her fascinating book, Teeming, author Tamsin Woolley-Barker elegantly shows — with numerous case studies — how it’s not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species which survive, but those who can respond most quickly to change. She shows how how flat, agile, and adaptive societies like ants, termites, jellyfish, sharks and underground fungal networks self-organise for resilience and value. They do this by consciously observing and responding to signals.
The most invasive and pernicious human signals right now are not conducive to self-organisation, thrivability and happiness — in fact, these signals create just the opposite: fear, uncertainty, mistrust, control.
So, this little #COVIDcolor exercise is a live experiment in human stigmergy: those self-organised phenomena that emerge as a consequence of indirect communication between individuals of a group through the generation of persistent cues in the environment.
I hope you’ll play along. There’s no more urgent time to figure out how we best coordinate our activities than now.