For most people, Omicron is a highly contagious cold. Lots will catch it, and most will get sniffles and a sore throat. Yes, even with Omicron, as with the flu, some people will get seriously ill, and a few will die. Masking, social distancing, capacity limits, lockdowns, curfews, and “vaccines” are not stopping the spread. People who dodge Omicron this time will face the next variant, or the one after that. Like other respiratory viruses in circulation, COVID-19 is here to stay. Therefore, COVID is done. Either mild Omicron is the end of COVID madness, or there is no off-ramp. The panic-demic must finish or we will be doing this forever.
For the past 23 months, the real pandemic has not been COVID but anxiety. According to Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, the COVID crisis is a product of “mass formation,” a collective psychosis that can occur when a significant portion of the population develops an irrational fixation on an external cause. Mass formation is most likely to occur, Desmet says, when a critical mass of people suffers from a lack of social bonds, a lack of meaning in their lives, free-floating anxiety that has no specific source or cause, and free-floating frustration and aggression not directed at a particular target.
The virus may have made people anxious, but it was more the other way around. Those already afraid, disconnected, and adrift in their lives were more susceptible to media messaging that portrayed COVID as a bigger threat than it really was. The virus offered an external phenomenon on which to focus their distress. It gave purpose to fear. Masks, lockdowns, social distancing, and vaccine mandates provided the illusion of control and a justification for imposing the burden of their anxiety on others. For some, hiding behind masks, staying home, working online, and being isolated gave respite from social interactions that they found uncomfortable anyway.
COVID is a righteous platform from which to rage against non-conformists. COVID cranks cheer when small businesses are shut, workers dismissed, university students ousted, and schools closed, all to assuage their anxiety. The country was never “in this together.” As Aldous Huxley wrote, “The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior ‘righteous indignation’ — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”
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