Home Opinion and Features OPINION: We need a remedy for our cabin fever

OPINION: We need a remedy for our cabin fever

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These days we spend so much time looking at screens that we forget that there is a bigger world out there, writes Lance Fredericks.

ACCORDING to an online article in Medical News Today, the term ‘cabin fever’ describes the psychological symptoms that a person may experience when they are confined to their home for extended periods. Such symptoms may include feelings of restlessness, irritability, and loneliness.

I am guessing that since March 2020 there are not many people who are unfamiliar with these symptoms. Do you remember that first harsh lockdown? Confined to our homes for several weeks … it was torture. It must have been unbearable for extroverts and socialites.

Currently, though we are not out of the pandemic woods quite yet, we do get to go out, move around or even take a drive – that is, if you can afford fuel at its current bloated price.

The other day, despite the fuel price, the cabin fever got to me and I took a drive out of the city – a kind of ‘nowhere trip’. I just needed to unwind, to stretch my gaze, to declutter my mind.

It was important for me to do it because these days we spend so much time looking at screens – and working for a newspaper I am on-screen practically ALL the time – that we forget that there is a bigger world out there. Perhaps that’s why we are becoming such self-absorbed trolls who are so intolerant of others.

Our ‘world’ is on a device and we ingest whatever it feeds us. We get used to being masters of our own space and push back at the very thought that other people matter. Our devices are helping us become dangerously self-absorbed.

Have you noticed how people are becoming intolerant of others? More and more you find that those who have a senior position and/or a uniform, or those who earn a bigger salary seem to believe that they can treat their fellow humans with less respect, less dignity.

I have been noticing that more and more people have no way of speaking to others. I have heard people being officious, disrespectful and even downright rude. The thinking seems to be that if you are in a position of authority, one of the perks is the luxury of pushing others around.

Another symptom of this new variant of cabin fever is that people are becoming increasingly irritable; snapping at others because they need to vent. I suppose that people are tense, coiled up and irritable and the cork pops.

For example, I have a number of friends who do not have medical aid. They tell me that visiting a hospital or clinic can be a minefield at times. There they are feeling sick and worried, hoping to get help from trained medical professionals and the overworked, underpaid and stressed staff bark at them, making a visit to the clinic very unpleasant.

Being intolerant, rude and abrupt when you are trained to help people is unacceptable, in fact it’s monstrous.

A few years ago – before we were confined and restrained and before cabin fever made us so intolerant and abusive – I heard horrible stories of rape victims being asked by nurses and examining doctors, “Why were you out so late? Why do you dress like that? What did you expect would happen?”

I can only hope that our medical professionals have changed since those years of ignorance and learned the incredible potential they have, the gift to uplift and heal people who are sick, hurt, broken and damaged.

What a difference it would make if we developed a new – a brand spanking new, out of the box, shiny and sparkly – culture of respect and dignity for the downtrodden. It could be something like a quality that includes the essential human virtues of kindness, mercy, compassion and humanity.

We could even give it a new name … something that no one else has thought of, something strange, unfamiliar and new, something like ‘ubuntu’.

Would that not be something?

I am not pretending that I am a champion of being the good guy. I also flip my lid more often than I should. But deep down I still know that respect and courtesy do go a long way, especially when we recognise that other people – even those we consider ‘inferior’ to ourselves deserve respect and dignity.

Maybe we could take some time to consider that not everyone thinks like we do. And once we realise it, give them space, understanding and respect when dealing with them.

Who knows, if we can all treat the chronic symptoms of cabin fever today, maybe when we get through this extended period of lockdowns and restrictions we can emerge better people and not bitter trolls.

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