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Spare A Thought For COVID Hypochondriacs
Opinion|Apr 4, 2022

Spare A Thought For COVID Hypochondriacs

Media Sensationalism Has Paved The Way For Sheer Health Paranoia Heaven.
Caroline Di Russo

By the time this piece is published, Australia will have emerged from the Omicron wave, closely followed by a wave of relief that we might just be seeing the back of this lousy pandemic. 

Well, it will be a wave of relief for most of us: those of us who want to reconnect with family and friends, travel, breathe fresh air, and decide for ourselves what we want to do, when and how we want to do it. 

You know, as we did back in the old days of 2019. 

But spare a thought for the amateur authoritarians and recreational hypochondriacs who aren’t quite ready to let go of their time in sun. And fair enough, they’ve had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to really hit their straps; from telling others to pull up their masks, to taking up COVID testing as a hobby, dobbing in their neighbours to the cops, and accusing anyone who shared a different view of wanting sick people to die. 

Let’s be clear – I’m not advocating recklessness. If you’re unwell, stay at home. If you are immunocompromised or engage with anyone immunocompromised, take necessary precautions. Manage your own risks and be considerate about those you interact with; it’s commonsense decency we used to exercise as a matter of course before public heath directives became fashionable. 

The reality is that the death of commonsense and nuance during this pandemic has been almost as tragic as the loss of human life. Our collective governments and media have encouraged rather than ameliorated this absurdity. Political narratives have been hyped and mainlined with fear; and those with their hands on the levers of power have been the most ardent purveyors of hysteria and champions of dependence. 

The death of commonsense during  this pandemic has been almost as tragic as the loss of human life

And for every budding Howard Hughes protégé out there, government press conferences and media sensationalism became a daily shot in the arm paving the way for their ascendency to health paranoia heaven. This coterie has burgeoned over the course of the pandemic, desperate to find a hill, any hill, for a martyr to die on. 

But the pressing issue is this: now that the governmental hand-holding, the cocooning restrictions, the incessant media are all drawing to a close - how will these people cope? How will they manage without having public servants direct their every move and sans the perceived moral authority to sneer at anyone deigning to hug another human being?

Only time will tell. Despite hospitalisations and death rates plummeting, a few are still desperately clinging to the high drama of March 2020 the same way an Italian mother clings to her favourite son. The remainder seem to have gone quiet. I’m not sure if they have realized the stupidity of their theatrics or whether they are at home busily sealing the doors in case Son of Omicron hunts them down. 

Even the self-appointed and self-indulgent COVID-19 experts seem to have realised there is little hay left to make. That said, a defiant Norman Swan recently suggested the war in Ukraine would make COVID-19 worse. He was suitably pilloried by all except the most ardent pandemic supplicants. It’s amazing how the breakout of war has tempered people’s fear for the current variant which symptoms are most often described to me as ‘I thought I had a hangover’.

This brings me to the flip side of the coin: how did these people cope before the pandemic? Remember when hypochondria wasn’t du jour and people were derided for being unreasonable and irrational about illness and health consequences? Either the COVID fanatics did not cope at all well back then, or it wasn’t until the pandemic struck  that they realised their potential for being terrified by their  own shadow.

In any event, I look forward to returning to a civil and rational society. One where we aim to be distinguished rather than dysfunctional.  

Where cool heads once again prevail.