The COVID-19 hysteria brings out the worst in people — and no, I am not referring to the xenophobia or ageism, both of which have already been talked into the ground. I am referring to the Western individualism that continues to pervade our society.
Western self-interest encourages us to only think about ourselves and our own self-preservation. The idea of “the greater good” seems totally unfamiliar in our individualistic society.
Consider the unfortunate case of the hoarded toilet paper.
Ever since schools and colleges nationwide began closing, numerous photos of empty WalMart shelves started filling social media timelines. Seemingly overnight, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and paper towels have gone missing. You don’t have to browse the internet for too long until you find someone price-gouging these necessities. It got to the point that some stores had to host exclusive shopping hours for the elderly and those otherwise at-risk.
This is a perfect example of Western self-interest. These people stockpiling and price-gouging products necessary for the older, immuno-compromised, or rural populus are doing so for their own gain.
Locally, events are being shut down left and right. Southern Miss classes will have transitioned fully online as of March 30. As of right now, all officially sponsored campus activities with over 50 attendees are cancelled. The Southern Miss Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life sent an email cancelling all Greek life events. Perhaps most tragic of all is that graduation commencement has been postponed, if not cancelled entirely.
I’m not saying that you are not allowed to be disappointed about the cancellations. However, don’t swarm social media and act as if a cancelled event is a personal attack against you. Consider it a small sacrifice for the greater good of the community’s health. Instead of going out and refusing to participate in social distancing, take this time to pursue a hobby, learn a new skill or reconnect with family.
Frankly, in this time of international crisis, it is difficult to take Mr. Rogers’ advice and “look for the helpers,” especially when social media bombards you with images of those doing the exact opposite. It’s disheartening. It overshadows the few posts of those helping by offering to pick up groceries for others or babysitting children. The negativity swamps the positivity.
I implore you to make this stressful time easier for others by purchasing only what you need. Remember that others are not losing parties, but lives. Be understanding of the bigger picture at hand — the entire world is experiencing this pandemic and all its disappointments, not just you.
Just be kind.