Health & Fitness The struggle with social distancing and lockdown rules: why some people just...

The struggle with social distancing and lockdown rules: why some people just won’t comply

Difficulty in following the rules could be due to a number of reasons such as not taking the disease personally enough, feeling desensitised, being selfish and for others the inability to be alone for long periods of time

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Some of the original opinions and research in this article can be attributed to Scott Andrew of CNN.

The COVID-19 pandemic has torn through the world like a hurricane, throwing governments, systems and lives into great disarray. Humans the world over are being told to stay at home and comply with various types of social distancing measures, but some people just cannot seem to comply with official (and sensible) advice.

With a third of the global population under some form of coronavirus lockdown, many of us are having trouble adjusting to the rigid restrictions, which can range from having to walk at least two metres away from others to only leaving your home for essential groceries and medical supplies, depending on your country.

Life is not as we know it. After all, we are living through a pandemic, and rising figures of cases and deaths all over the world drive home the painful point that this could be a much longer road than the world first expected. Borders are closed and travel has ground to a halt. Some of us are not even allowed to go for a jog around the block.

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Besides thorough hand washing, sanitising and wearing of personal protective equipment—such as masks and gloves—strict social distancing measures are key factors in mitigating the virus’ spread.

Each country has its own rules and its own stubborn delinquents. Despite repeated pleas from government officials and health authorities to stay at home and keep their distance from others, many people simply refuse to comply.

Some don’t feel like it’s personal enough 

For some, following social distancing rules feels unnecessary, because the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t feel like a personal problem. They see and hear about it on the news, they feel somewhat sad that it’s raging on in other countries, but they don’t feel personally impacted by it.
Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Psychology of Pandemics,” remarked that people “downplay” the significance of such crises because “they’re not seeing people in their communities coming down with the virus”.

Some are feeling desensitised

Thanks to the information overload brought on by the constant stream of news updates, social media feeds and conversations revolving around COVID-19, Taylor noted that people are getting “numbed out” to the severity of the pandemic.
Getting inundated with facts and figures is one thing; being exposed to information—not all legitimate or accurate—from all sorts of sources is another. Fake news or inaccuracies can lead to people deciding that there’s not really much to worry about, with some even shaking their heads at others who are taking the proper precautions.

Some are “under-responders”

Psychologists like Gordon Asmundson of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada, are taking the opportunity to study how psychological factors impact COVID-19’s spread and people’s behavioural responses to the pandemic.
Asmundson has categorised people into three groups—over-responders, under-responders and those who fall in between. The over-responders are the panic buyers who are the first to rip supplies of the shelves and stock way more than they need. Over-responding is a way of assuring themselves that they are safe amidst the pandemic.
Under-responders are those who feel that they are not susceptible to the disease and therefore flout health rules and regulations. Their belief that they won’t get sick propels them to act without caution, even though their actions could put others at risk.

Some are thinking only about themselves

While an individual’s personal health takes priority over others, we have to work as a community if we are to beat the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Some have a problem with this as they feel like it violates their personal rights. We don’t think much about simple, individual freedoms until they are taken away from us. Being told to follow social distancing measures and stay at home can feel extremely limiting and oppressive, but if it’s what we must do to safeguard our health and that of others, we must consider others and obey.

Some want to regain control of their lives

Vaile Wright, the American Psychological Association’s Director of Clinical Research and Quality, said that the anti-social distancing ideology may be about control. “Exercising their [the ones who don’t comply] defiance makes the virus seem smaller” and gives them a feeling of power, Wright noted.
One of the main challenges that comes along with uncertainty is “it reminds us of things that are out of our control”, Wright pointed out, adding that “this sort of defiance, to a certain extent, is trying to regain control”.

Some are feeling lonely

Ultimately, human beings need connection with others, and loneliness is too hard of a pill to swallow for some. According to Asmundson, Taylor and Wright, being denied social interaction for extended periods of time is no easy feat for us people.
Asmundson pointed out that humans are social creatures with a lot of freedoms, and therefore it’s difficult to make the changes we’re being asked to make.
While many people are turning to technology to stay occupied and connected with others who are social distancing in other places, older adults who are not as well-versed in using messaging and calling apps may feel more isolated than ever.
At the end of the day, we are all challenged by how this global pandemic has changed our lives. We may feel isolated in our homes, away from families and friends, but there is a togetherness in it as well. If humans can band together as a community and respect the social distancing restrictions which are being set for our collective benefit, we might be able to beat this virus. /TISG
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