A Dance of Misery

I tested positive for COVID last week. Another family member had it, and I was the next lucky recipient. Other than feeling like I had a bad head cold, I’ve been doing okay.

That my symptoms have been so relatively mild is a benefit of having been vaccinated and boosted. I shudder to think of how bad things could be if I hadn’t been. We’ve had plenty of stories of what this disease has been like for the unvaccinated, including some desperately changing their minds in the hospital:

“I’m admitting young, healthy people to the hospital with very serious Covid infections,” wrote Cobia in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late,” she added, referring to patients who have to be put on a ventilator.

I think about how much of these instances could have been avoided, if conspiracy theories about the virus and the vaccines weren’t so prevalent and widely accepted.

So much misery caused by nonsensical theory.

And yet there are real psychological reasons why those theories are so attractive to so many. Among other reasons, there are these:

Thirdly, conspiracy theories serve as a very seductive ego boost. Unlike others, you have figured out the truth; you are different from the masses/idiots/sheep who have had the wool pulled over their eyes. 

Finally, humans have a need for control and order when distressedFear, uncertainty, and feelings of being out of control can lead people to search for patterns and meaning in people’s behavior as a way to make sense of the chaos and attempt to navigate the fear of the unknown. This is an evolutionary adaptive mechanism designed to keep us alive.

We like feeling like we’re “in the know,” especially if it helps us feel superior to others. It helps us feel in control, and that our choices are sound ones.

But then comes the misery. Then comes hospitalization, ventilators, long-term effects, or even death. Sometimes for those who believe the conspiracy, and other times for those a degree or two away from them.

And the dance goes on. For two years, this dance has gone on. When will the song finally change?

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