Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Advocating restrictions on liberty in the name of health

The New Neo takes a look at how our response to Covid has transformed our lives.
One of the very first things I said to a friend when the COVID restrictions began was: “We’re all going to end up with OCD.” “OCD” is obsessive-compulsive disorder, and although I was making a joke I was also somewhat serious. My early sense was based on the tenaciousness of OCD symptoms, once induced and adopted. If a person has any tendency towards OCD at all – and a lot of people do even though they haven’t actually displayed OCD symptoms prior to COVID – and that person has been doing a bunch of things that the person thinks has kept that person safe from disease, it can be very hard to give them up. It generally requires an active decision and effort to do so. It’s an effort a lot of people won’t make.
And for some, all of these restrictions offer secondary gains. For example, if a person has any sort of social anxiety, it’s easier to stay away from people, once you’ve gotten used to it. Computers make isolation less onerous, too.
Lastly, youth has been so protected compared to earlier generations. So many diseases have mostly been vanquished that were horrific scourges even in my lifetime – polio, leukemia (which was virtually always a death sentence when I was young, and struck a considerable number of children), and mumps and measles (the latter of which had the possibility of significant and highly serous complications such as encephalitis). These advances are great, but they have made the younger generation less willing to shoulder any health risks, and that makes them more susceptible to advocating restrictions on liberty in the name of health.
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