COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. It altered our lives extremely significantly – new rules, new social norms, new laws even. But some people were breaking those rules and it is likely that you know some of them. Who were those rule-breakers?
Scientists at the University of Waterloo say they were bored, socially conservative people.
It is often boredom that leads people to break public-health rules – it can be dangerous in the times of a pandemic. Image credit: stuartpilbrow via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Scientists asked more than 900 people to answer some questions about boredom, political ideology and adhering to new public-health rules introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like, for example, wearing a mask or avoiding gatherings. These rules were not actually difficult to follow, regardless of what people keep saying on online forums. However, they did change our social lives significantly enough that some people find them uncomfortable at least.
James Danckert, one of the lead authors of the study, said that a lot of the new restrictions became heavily politicized. This was pretty much unavoidable, because those restrictions were communicated by the governing bodies that are always made up of politicians. While governments have focused on stressing the importance of personal responsibility, this message has an expiration date. People simply get bored. “But this can become finger pointing and blaming and most of us recoil from that. What we need is to promote our shared values – the things we all have in common and the positive things we can get back if we all pull together”, Danckert said.
Scientists found that boredom and being socially conservative lead people to breaking the new public health regulations. Boredom is not a trivial experience – it cannot be ignored. And public health institutions should think about this effect on people, particularly those who built their happiness on extremely active social lives.
What can be done about that? Well, scientists believe that the public messages should not focus solely on what is now banned. You can only tell people to not do something until they get bored enough to actually start doing it anyway. Governing bodies should alter their communication to underline what people can do. For some people boredom is a serious mental health concern and not everyone is strong enough to deal with complete elimination of social lives. This is worth paying attention to.
New public health rules are important because they save lives. But we cannot devolve into a tyrannical regime trying to keep people inside by force. We need to pay attention to boredom and the mental condition of people. We need to make the new rules and social norms easy to follow, even for those who are prone to boredom and need social interactions to feel happy and content.
Source: University of Waterloo
You can offer your link to a page which is relevant to the topic of this post.