Breaking Out of the Current Outbreak

Full disclosure: I wrote this piece three weeks ago, before COVID-19 progressed to the point it is as of today, 3/19/20.

CALIFORNIA’S CORONAVIRUS STATE OF EMERGENCY

CORONAVIRUS CASES SURPASS 100,000 WORLDWIDE

CORONAVIRUS CASES INCREASE BY 20% IN 24 HOURS IN UK TO 51

Feeling anxious yet? These are three headlines from major news outlets in the past three days (as of 3/7/20). Is it clickbait, or is it really this bad? It depends on how we look at it. As of 3/19/20, the majority of us are in quarantine, schools are closed, and people are out of work. So maybe it’s a little of both.

Current events sell articles, news outlets need to find a way to make sure it sells. Hence, the high-stressed headline. It has become so bad that now it has its own term, Headline Stress Disorder, coined by Dr. Steven Stosny in 2016.

TWO THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Covid-19 is not going to end the world, so chill out. While we should be concerned, it shouldn’t ruin the average person’s life, at least not yet. As John Oliver recently stated, “… if you’re drinking bleach to protect yourself right now, you should probably calm the fuck down… Don’t be complacent, and don’t be a fucking idiot.” Let’s find that middle ground and wash your hands more frequently. Otherwise, live life and “calm the fuck down.”
  • Find a way to get away from the news. Avoid the internet for a day. Delete your social media apps (gasp! the horror!). Look for something uplifting (sites like Good News Network only promote positive stories, and they have their own app) to start or end your day. Find a recess from the bad news all the time. Something like fiction.

FICTION CAN BE USED AS A COPING MECHANISM

… And there it is. What can we do to escape the constant bad news that is pushed our way? For one thing, we can avoid it. Find something else to occupy our minds. How does fiction do that, you wonder? Dr. John Morillo of NC State University recently discussed dystopian fiction stories,

“They can allay our fears by showing them in extreme, and then often reintroduce some kind of heroic narrative to console those anxieties rather than just magnifying them.”

That’s right. You’re going to suffer from some anxiety. This isn’t a cure-all for it and certainly not a way to altogether avoid it, but it’s a start. More importantly, it’s a tool that can help cope with it. The best way to see the folly in current event headlines is to experience the absolute extreme and then realize that the current news is nothing but line after line of panic-inducing bullshit garnered towards to susceptible reader, to generate ad-revenue. If you click on it, they get paid.

So, pay yourself

Instead of giving even more money to the news machine, take a few minutes and pay yourself with hours of entertainment that can benefit everybody, by reading a book. I’ll even make it easy and list ten fantastic fictional books on epidemics that will take your mind off of the coronavirus, and maybe get you to wash your filthy hands. There you go, now get reading and stop worrying!

  1. The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton
  2. World War Z – Max Brooks
  3. Blindness – José Saramago
  4. Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
  5. The Passage – Justin Cronin
  6. Swan Song – Robert McCammon
  7. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  8. Wanderers – Chuck Wendig
  9. The Fireman – Joe Hill
  10. Outbreak – Robin Cook

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