The COVID-19 pandemic is something that has taken the entire world by storm. People across the globe have been forced into their homes for their safety and so many of them have had to rearrange their school life/work-life schedules. People are also losing their jobs and in many parts of the world that don’t necessarily have easy internet access, students are being forced to pause their education for the unforeseen future. There are many other issues that people around the world are facing and it’s unprecedented how strong some of us truly are in the face of uncertainty.
I always want to personally thank the front-lines for putting their lives on the line for the greater good.
In light of such a massively destructive event, people have developed a sense of community where they have begun to come together for the good of the whole. From people singing on balconies to celebrities like John Krasinski actively taking part in making people feel better about our situation by starting a youtube channel dedicated to Some Good News.
However, some people are noticing the less delightful aspects of this pandemic. On social media more and more people are voicing their thoughts on friends and family that are choosing not to check on them amid this pandemic.
Many people feel betrayed or hurt by those who they thought cared about them. Someone said, “I’ve realized that those who betrayed me have allowed me to see who they were beyond the story I’ve created about them.”
The idea of betrayal and how truly and deeply hurt some people are over their friends not checking up on them is widespread right now. So many people are preparing to end friendships once the pandemic is over while others are having their eyes being opened to the “truth”.
So what does this tell us about people?
I could argue that these individuals are forgetting a very critical counterpoint to their argument: who’s stopping them from picking up the phone and reaching out to their friends? Communication is a two-way street after all. However, I think it’s much deeper than that.
People WANT to be cared for. They want to feel loved and appreciated and want to be considered someone’s priority. Someone might have considered another person their closest friend and once they realized that they have not been reaching out to them or asking about them, they went into a state of cognitive dissonance.() Cognitive dissonance is when people have two opposing thoughts. For example, in this case, you would think someone is your best friend yet they’re not reaching out to check on you. In this case, many people choose to get angry and lash out. This theory is based on Festinger’s work where he suggested that due to the nature of cognitive dissonance, people are motivated to reduce or avoid it.
Going back to the ‘communication is a two-way street’ point. It seems that the people who are hurt, angry, and ready to lash out are those that are the most vulnerable.
When I say vulnerable I don’t mean immunocompromised necessarily. I mean even those who usually are always the ones who make plans or put any effort towards the friendship (like if they don’t call then the other person won’t bother, we all know those kinds of people). Vulnerability at this time also means those who are living in the epicenter of this disaster like New York or Italy.
Those vulnerable people are the exact people who are lashing out and who’s cognitive dissonance is so strong that they want to get rid of it by choosing a side.
Now, are these people right in treating their friends this way? I’m not sure. It is common courtesy to check in on someone you consider a friend, especially in such difficult times and especially those that are vulnerable. I mean what’s 2 minutes of your day sending a quick “I hope you’re doing well” text to someone you consider a friend. On the other hand, we don’t know what someone is going through. Some people might be going through a financially stressful time or a mentally and emotionally traumatic time, and so it would make sense for them to not be able to reach out first. I can even argue that people should do their duty and reach out to their friends first. If they choose not to contact you after that, then at least you gave it your best shot.
What are your thoughts on people not reaching out first? Should you be the first one to contact a friend or is it asking too much?