Isolation is a form of torture.
I don’t say that to say the lockdowns are literally torture. That would be counterproductive and overly theatrical, not to mention untrue.
Even at its worse, you were never fully isolated. You could always video chat and use social media.
And yet, all that does is pull you out of ‘torture’ and into ‘regular, old fashioned loneliness’.
I know I’m not speaking for everyone here. Some folks thrive in that environment. And others managed to keep their social lives… well, alive.
But most folks felt, and maybe keep feeling, at least a little isolated.
And mass emotions like this can be contagious. Imagine if everyone in the world became a little more short-tempered. There’s be a lot more folks yelling at each other, which would make them even angrier, and so forth.
Lonely folks tend to withdraw into themselves, which only makes everyone around them lonelier…
Here’s why I brought up torture:
Extreme isolation reduces a person’s sense of self. The best guess on the role of sentience – why we evolved it in the first place – is to better understand and anticipate other people. Without other people around us, there’s no need for it.
Like everything else in biology and psychology, it works by “use it or lose it” rules.
No sentience equals no sense of self.
Without other people, you begin to lose your grip on reality. Willpower and empathy plummet, while baser instincts thrive.
Now, we’re not seeing that to an extreme degree. It’s not like people are losing their minds, like what can happen to folks who are tortured.
And folks are still smart – we’re seeing a lot of creativity come out of all this.
But in general, people seem a little less disciplined, a whole lot less empathetic and even a little more unhinged than usual.
It’s not going to reverse until one of two things happen:
Either all the lockdown measures end and we start hugging strangers on the street…
We learn how to keep our minds throughout this.
Put a Buddhist monk in total isolation and they won’t care – they already know how to handle that.
Fortunately, you don’t need to go that far. Becoming a monk would help, but it’s a little overkill.
What you really need is much, much simpler.
As simple as taking ten, maybe 13 minutes to listen to something, whenever you feel yourself slipping away.