Covid-19 – Anatomy of a Contagion: Fear

Fear is a normal response to a perceived threat or danger, like moving away from a swarm of bees in order not to get stung or veering away from an incoming car that ran a red light to avoid an accident. This normal reaction is called flight-or-fight. It is common to all humans and animals alike.

Most of us react the same way during the flu season. We stay away from people who are sick to avoid catching the virus. We frown on people who sneeze or cough who do not use a paper tissue. We behave in a normal way by keeping our distance for fear of being infected.

What has been propagated since the outbreak of covid-19 does not reflect a definition of fear. What the outbreak resembles instead is a type of social phobia; a fear that is disproportionate to the true danger that a thing, event or disease poses to our survival.

Phobia alters the way we react and behave. It changes the normal way we think and act as rational human beings. This type of fear leaves people vulnerable to indoctrination and manipulation, making them vulnerable to subservience. It entices people to surrender their freewill and freedom to cult leaders, group-think, institutional powers or the State in return for a promise of safety and protection.

As a greater number of people become immune from the source of fear they will realize that the phobia has been more damaging to the economy than the biological infection of casualties that have mostly contributed to the death of people of over 65 years of age.

The casualties are nothing close to the predictions made by officials. Based on statistics provided by the CDC the number of deaths in the US so far, is similar to causalities caused by an acute flu season.

Covid 19 ~ 165,000 – 200,000 deaths out of a US population of 328 million: Most of these deaths are not directly caused by the virus but are a contributing factor to an already existing condition like high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Heart disease ~ 647,000 deaths per year in the US: Does the government decree people to become vegan?
Driving fatalities per year ~ 1.35 million people die per year in the US: Does the government decree people to stop driving?

What will become evident once the dust settles is the extent of the damage done to many sectors of the economy. It is estimated that approximately 30% of world economy has been affected by the lock-downs. The greatest damage was done to commercial real-estate investments, the tourist, the aviation, the service economies, restaurants, small businesses, bars and pubs and the gig economy that hire young people.

The lock-downs and social distancing have contributed to an ongoing paradigm shift to an e-commerce business model introduced by Amazon and copied by other retailers, accelerating a move away from shopping in brick and mortar stores, promoting online buying by a captive buyer at home. The shift benefited several additional sectors like; the delivery businesses, the media and web sites that provide the news, opinions and entertainment that generates advertising money.

To what extent are the media and online sources of information responsible for exploiting people’s fear of catching the virus? A fear instigated by one’s health concerns and propagated by a search for news about the disease. This in turn generated high ratings, higher page views/rank and advertising revenues.

To find some answers on how this vicious circle went viral one needs to look at the language used at the origin of the contagion: How it originated, how it evolved and how it was disseminated, because as Emile Benveniste explained: “language re-produces reality”.

One can retrace the origin of covid-19 to words/images used by news sources. Terms like; lab, experiment, bats, pandemic and death are graphic images that make great headlines. Wuhan, China and eating bats, inspires a natural tendency in people to discriminate against an ethnic group. Discrimination that goes back to the way the Chinese were treated during the rail-road construction boom in the nineteen century.

Words like coronavirus was used instead of flu, even though the flu is a coronavirus. Label like covid-19 made it sound alien giving it a nice science-fiction ring to it. The virus was described as a pandemic sounding like epidemic.

Reports of cases rather than deaths from all over the world provided unlimited and continuous sources of information on the subject to an audience glued to their TVs and devices.

News outlets were not inclined to report accurate facts about the virus as it would discredit authorities that ordered lock-downs that generated advertising money and contributed to a paradigm shift beneficial to FANGs type businesses and their stock market valuations.

The fear pandemic is slowly abating as a result people will realize that the damage done to the economy is the real symptom of the disease…