Isolation fatigue seems to be going around. People are growing tired of staying at home all the time, and it feels like things are safer now than when the pandemic first began. Unfortunately, the opposite is true – things are actually more dangerous as more people are infected now than ever before. It’s a trick our psychology is playing on us – we’re adjusting to the new normal so the new normal feels, well, normal. Understanding this psychology can help us to prepare for what lies ahead.
If you look at the things people have been buying week by week and how the priorities are constantly shifting, you can gain insight into the thought processes behind the shifts. Early on people were going crazy for toilet paper, but why? Spending more time at home is a new thing for most people, who spend the majority of their waking hours either at school or at work. Because they are no longer going to those places, they are having to answer nature’s call at home more frequently, thus the need for more toilet paper.
The same can be said of food items – people are no longer eating lunch out or at school and are instead having all of their meals at home. Have you noticed the dishes never seem to end these days? That’s because you are home more, as well.
As the pandemic wore on, people’s priorities shifted. People started to think about the long term of being stuck at home, so sales of yeast and flour grew like crazy as everyone started baking bread at home. The sales of beverage alcohol began to spike as the reality of being stuck at home for a year set in.
Then people began to prepare for the long term, trying to become more self-reliant. They began buying fruit and vegetable plants, chickens to raise for meat and eggs, gun and ammo, deep freezers, and more.
Mentally, our survival instincts are driving us these days. It’s not that we don’t recognize there’s plenty of toilet paper in the world, it’s that we don’t know when we will see it again so we decide it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Understanding that survival is driving us can help us to steady the ship that is our economy. Appealing to people to wear masks in public is our best shot at regaining some control over the economy. Without near-universal mask usage, there’s a good chance the economy could dive even further into chaos.
There’s too much to process right now, and any efforts we can make to ensure people have access to good information will help. There’s too much bad information out there right now, and people don’t have the emotional bandwidth to separate the good from the bad. The result has been catastrophic already. Can we turn the economy around by appealing to people’s sense of self-preservation? How can we get good information into the hands of those most resistant to it? Learn more about the psychology behind isolation fatigue from the infographic below.
Infographic courtesy of EduRef
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