I flipped open my iPad as I awoke this morning to get the latest update on what was happening in our corona-virus world. It’s my go-to-upon-awakening task. My pattern has become to check in on my various devices no matter where I am, no matter the time of day and see what is transpiring in our newly pandemic world. So, no question about it, I have a psychiatric disorder: I am obsessed with Covid-19 news!. Notwithstanding, when I hear the latest update, I feel afraid. I’m somehow always hoping to find some relief. We have a saying in psychiatry that doing the same thing endless times, hoping for a different outcome is the definition of insanity. So each day I’m acting like an addict who has lost his mind. Why am I doing something that repeatedly scares me? Let’s think about this for a bit.
Obsessed to witness scary things
Why do we stop to look at things that frighten us like accidents along the highway, scary movies or lions at the zoo? One reason, oddly, is that witnessing these particularly scary and disturbing things makes us feel more safe. How’s that? During our distress, we are in the safety of our non-crashed car, sitting in our comfy movie seat or standing high on the perch above the lion that lurks far below. We can look fear in the eye knowing that we are safe and sound. We’re in control while we are witnessing something that could easily be beyond our control. Nonetheless, though terrified, we watch and we watch. But that’s not the real reason we are compelled to be glued to our devices. Why are we? In case you’re wondering, it’s not because we are a nation of masochists or that we enjoy ghoulish macabre things.
What’s behind Covid-19 news obsession?
Ask yourself this: what do you feel when you watch the news about the pandemic? Likely, terrified that this tiny virus has had the power to upend and snuff out our lives. Besides fear, though, what other emotions do we experience when we watch Covid-19 news? We feel empathy for those who are ill or who have died; compassion for those afflicted, blessed for all that we have in our lives; a desire to connect with our loved ones; appreciative of living; spared and lucky. And, we know that we must live our life to it’s fullest. So what do all these feelings add up to? It’s simple: we feel our own humanness.
Drawn to our own humanity
Though fear is in the mix, we feel comforted and nourished as we connect with our best human self, the person we want to be. If that isn’t intoxicating, I don’t know what is. Doing so makes us feel human in many ways. My iPad and TV screens are mirrors and I see a kind, decent, caring, empathic, grateful, blessed reflection looking back at me. I like the person that I see. When I remember that all this lies just beneath my layer of fear, it’s very comforting. When I can touch those parts of myself, I no longer feel so alone and I no longer feel so afraid. My humanness makes me feel safe. I’m experiencing my humanness rather than my virus fearfulness. So, for Covid-19 news obsession, don’t live in your superficial scary world…live in your deep human one.
Please tell me what you think…