Author: Sara Habibipour
As the United States approaches its third week of quarantine, the fear around the Coronavirus has been more abundant than ever. It's obvious. There's no toilet paper on the shelves and people are scared to death to even leave their homes for a breath of fresh air.
But, is this a good or bad kind of fear? And where does it come from?
First, let's start off with the good kind. In my previous post, "What the Heck is Happening with the Coronavirus?! How Long Will It Be Like This?" I talk about how this virus is growing exponentially, but it can't stay that way forever. There has to eventually be an inflection point, or when the graph starts to level off and the amount of cases stays constant. How can we flatten the curve? Well, naturally, when people are afraid, they will take precautions. As is the case with a virus, people will be more inclined to wash their hands, elbow-bump instead of hand-shake, and take other preventative measures. After all, it is our responsibility as civilians witnessing a pandemic to flatten this curve. So, some would consider this "fear" as beneficial to slowing down this pandemic. But is this fear or simply being aware?
Let's compare the above example to more extreme cases of fear. The bad kind.
When people are so afraid of the virus that they are over-purchasing N-95 masks that are needed for healthcare workers who are now being put at an unhealthy risk at their own jobs, then it becomes a problem. Major cities such as New York are already facing a crisis because there is a lack of ventilators, and even in places like my hometown, all planned surgeries have been canceled because all equipment is being used for Coronavirus patients. Healthcare workers do not need the extra stress of not having proper protective gear; they are already putting their lives on the line to prevent the virus from spreading, and any healthy civilian who is already practicing social-distancing does not need an N-95 mask (or to hoard all the toilet paper...seriously guys). This is the point where fear becomes dangerous.
Where does this fear come from? Well, obviously media sources have a lot to do with it because that's how information is being spread, currently. But, there's also a lot of misinformation out there that is causing this fear. BE INFORMED! FOLLOW PROPER, SCIENTIFIC SOURCES. Non-scientific resources are some of the most dangerous tools out there, especially in times like these. So, watch out.
To end off on a lighter note, let's talk about how we feel scared. A fear reaction starts in the brain and spreads throughout the body to make the best defense, or flight reaction (whether it's in a haunted house during Halloween or in a supermarket running out of toilet paper). The fear response starts in a region of the brain called the amygdala, an almond-shaped set of nuclei in the temporal lobe of the brain that is dedicated to detecting the emotional salience of the stimuli – how much something stands out to us.
So, to summarize, it is better to stay aware rather than scared so that we not only protect ourselves, but the whole global community currently being affected by this virus.
I hope everyone reading this understands my points mentioned above, and be sure to stay AWARE but not SCARED.