I stepped out of the house after 2 months. Here is what happened.

Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it. ― Veronica Roth, Divergent

The time flew. I was so engrossed in my studies that I almost forgot that there are some relaxations in Bengaluru city of India. It was a weekend, I stepped out. It felt normal.

People were fearlessly working outside. Traffic was normal. Roads were getting constructed. I took a long breath behind my mask. Phew!

But I felt a disconnect. There is one dreaded world which we see using our screen devices mostly during the night before sleep. And there is this world which looks bright in the afternoon during the weekend. What is going on here? 

We started this pandemic journey by exercising the principle of collective consciousness. We shared links on social media, switched off lights and turned on flashlights, hoarded groceries, almost getting diagnosed with OCD. We were excited and exploring new kinds of vegetables and food items and coffees. During the initial days of Janta curfew, there was a spike in stimulation level in the brain as it was dealing with a new situation.

The above graph is the creative visualisation which is inspired by various studies and made after studying various graph patterns. One of such studies is conducted by Kinetic and the graph looks like below.

The brain was in the mode of taking as much information as possible which usually consumes a lot of glucose. Over-communication in brain nerves also disturbed the emotional connections. There was a sudden shift in mood, sleeping pattern, eating behaviour, posture etc.

Then came a middle phase where the world turned upside down. The graphs became red and were pointing downwards. Everyone's plan got ruined. We blamed the year 2020. We subconsciously asked ourselves every day that if everything is going to get normal, ever? 

When we are in one heightened emotional state, it is very difficult to imagine another emotional state. During the low phase, our own cooked meal wasn't tasting yummy, our work gave us sleepless nights, we got bored of a quarantined partner. We were in a low emotional state and it was difficult to imagine the future happier phase. Like Dr Loewenstein in his paper said - "When one is sick, it is very difficult to imagine being healthy again". This cognitive bias is known as the Empathy Gap.

After having a huge gap, we delved into the monotonous work routine. The uncertainties were on the rise. The decision of whether one should book a flight or quarantine. Should one leave the current job or lookout for new? Are there enough jobs in the market. But what about the burnout I am facing? How should I tell my manager that I am not as productive as I used to be?

These become unconscious echos in our brain and our brain can't handle too many choices. So we give up and became happily hopeless. We want to focus on one issue at a time. For example recent riots in the US, people were gathered in large amount without masks and without maintaining social distance. There were too much responsibility and grave situations to handle.

In these situations, the human brain sometimes works on autopilot mode. This mode when remain unchecked can act in an unfair manner. We call them biases and they are hundreds in number. One of the reasons for disconnection I was feeling is Present Bias. We are now fed up calculating future rewards and not able to judge their values because the whole game has changed. We are in 'Kal ho Naa ho' mode where we want to gratify ourself immediately. 

The reward of lockdown and social distancing is not visible to us. We are nowadays choosing the visible tangible option versus choosing the unknown, invisible and intangible. Disinfecting door knobs does not give immediate feedback on how much efficient we were. Saying yes to relative or friend who is asking to visit their home is giving much higher rewards and helping in building social capital.

One thing that has surely changed that we have realized humans have much more value over non-living things. Because humans can adapt and update their beliefs. Adaptation is our biggest strength, and we will surely try to control our fear. And someday, hopefully, will learn how to be free from it.

References

Principle of collective consciousness Link here

Happily Hopeless: Adaptation to a Permanent, but Not to a Temporary, Disability Link here

Hot–Cold Empathy Gaps and Medical Decision Making  Link here

The Economics of Instant Gratification Link here