Invaded vs Uninvaded Bodies in Pandemic: What if I have the coronavirus?
A Short Cultural Analysis of Anxiety, Preparedness, and Following Others with Coronavirus on Social Media in Corona Times
Author: Sahra Rosenkvist & Editor: Matthew Short
Knowing others’ experiences has been very interesting for humankind for a long time. With the current pandemic situation, we have been reading about the symptoms that people with coronavirus have, watching YouTube videos of people who have had coronavirus in their bodies, reading blog posts about their experiences with the virus, following these stories on social media day by day. Lots of people then start to show corona-like symptoms because of the psychological effects of this pandemic even though they do not carry the virus or they are not sick at all.
What ifs, anxiety, the possibility of contamination, and the impossibility of inevitability
What if I have the coronavirus, what if I am contaminated, what if I had contact with a person carrying the virus, what if my kid caught it and is carrying it, what if, if, if… If is a conditional language component in English, it helps to describe the possibility of happenings now or in the future. The possibility is a thing that may happen, every sentence starting with an if and continues with coronavirus has started to show the possibility, the impossibility of inevitability, the inevitability of having COVID19 and the related hopelessness of virus transmission which causes anger, anxiety and a fear of people during the pandemic.
Preparedness and human psychology
Ok, many of us have had this anxiety that I mentioned above to some extent. But then what? Humankind is conditioned to survive, to solve problems for surviving. Many thought that one of the most important survival acts has been to identify the sickness, this virus, in the same way we do for other illnesses. People have started to monitor their symptoms, which also feeds anxiety. They have started to ask to be tested, and in many countries, they did not have access to tests at the beginning of the pandemic. Sometimes, they were right, they had coronavirus, their symptoms were true but most of the time, the anxiety and fear of getting coronavirus was the trigger for them to feel that way. People in the latter group had a compulsion to read blogs of people with coronavirus, watch videos on YouTube and so on. By doing so, they thought that they could compare the symptoms and understand if they had the virus or not. They thought they could get information about the ways of transmission so that they could take their own precautions to not get the virus. They looked for tips about nutrition and self-care in case they caught the virus: this can actually be called “getting prepared for the virus and learning how to handle it”. Data online also shows or visualizes that not everyone dies because of this virus even though it can affect them very badly, this has caused relief for people who have got it or will fear getting it.
Two of my friends who have had coronavirus
I have had two friends who got this virus, one of them living in Sweden went abroad for a small vacation and he most likely caught the virus there while partying. When I learned that he was sick, I was very curious about how he handled the process alone and asked if he needed any help. He sounded quite relaxed, he said it was fine and just like the normal flu. Additionally, he felt tired so he was resting a lot. He did not panic or make a big deal out of his situation. He was not interested in informing others about his symptoms and feelings day by day. He did not take the virus seriously at all and he still does not.
On the contrary, my other friend had been very cautious since the beginning, she had been at home, quarantining herself, she cleaned every item she had bought and she used face masks and hand sanitizers. She does not know how she had finally caught it. She started to write about her symptoms, her feelings and the effects of the virus which invaded her body and made her sick on Instagram. I started to read how she was and how it was going with her. Firstly, she started to post about how she got tested and got the results, then what medicines she got from the health authorities in Turkey, which described the testing process and medical assistance. She posted every single day with this virus and her daily routines:
I am in quarantine in my room. I only go out to the bathroom, I definitely use face masks when I leave the room. They leave my food in front of my door and I pick my food and eat it in my room. (Translated from Turkish to English)
She lives with her family, it is even more challenging for her to be away from her family members to keep them safe and healthy when she shares the same bathroom with them.
From time to time she shared health and nutrition tips:
I took x supplement to support my immunity last 2 months. I believe that this helps me to make the process easy now. Here I share some supportive nutrition tips which are given by my friends who want to share their experiences with me which I add below. …
A lot of water
Vitamin c and d
Onion and Garlic
(Translated from Turkish to English)
And in one of her posts, she said that she received many nice comments on her COVID-19 posts/daily diaries and she decided to keep this series with a story highlight on her profile. No wonder why she got good comments, she informed her friends and family about how she feels every day, how she handles the virus, what she eats and drinks and how she follows the governmental procedure and similar.
She helped her audience by preparing them for the virus in case they got it. She reduced the anxiety of uncertainty of having coronavirus. Now, her followers know how they might feel if they get it, what to eat and how to spend their time in quarantine. She did something good and beneficial but, of course, her experiences are subjective and only based on her case, there are other cases that are more serious and life-threatening.
While access to this kind of data can be helpful in alleviating stress and worry, we should be careful to not create a false sense of security. And nor should these stories also fill us with a fear of socializing, parties, meetings. We must find a balance between the two.
Note: Special thanks to my friend, she knows herself, for letting me use her data for this article.