I have a lot of nerve, right? You might find yourself asking, what gives you license to join the conversation? I know enough about COVID-19 to keep me and my family safe and to help the clients in my practice navigate the vicissitudes of this novel virus. While I am not an expert on the coronavirus my experience as a psychologist for twenty years qualifies me as an expert in human behavior. Additionally, I have spent countless hours since March talking to people from diverse backgrounds about how COVID-19 is affecting them and their loved ones personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Having said this, I also take a humble stance when it comes to COVID-19 and how we as a country are approaching this vexing virus.

Given the fact that globally we have not seen anything that approximates COVID-19 since 1918, I find it perplexing that there are so many experts in the media and on social media. There has been a lot of contradictory information disseminated. Some of this is to be expected, we have not lived through anything like this before. We are all struggling to understand and cope. This is a time of trial and error; we hope for more success than failure.

I find myself increasingly frustrated with the memes, gifs, opinions, and platforms that people have decided to stand on. The one thing we know about COVID-19 is that we don’t know a lot about it. It astounds me that people have drawn firm lines that create divisiveness over wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home to keep others safe. If the experts don’t know, then how in the hell did “Karen” figure it out?

I don’t know about you, but as far back as I can remember, “cover your mouth” and “wash your hands” have always been methods used to promote the safety of self and others. It was amongst my first lessons. There is nothing new about these concepts. However, all of a sudden these directives have become the ammunition for political battles.

Keep your distance and give people their personal space (physically and metaphorically speaking). I talk about boundaries all day every day in my practice. It is a difficult concept for people to grasp. Some people don’t have any boundaries, while others have too many. I see individuals struggle to set limits with their physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and financial resources. It is important to know where the lines between self and others begin and end. It helps people to stay in their lanes. Respect your boundaries so you don’t put yourself at risk, and respect my boundaries so you don’t put me at risk.

There are conspiracy theorists who believe that the pandemic is planned and that this “plandemic” is a political maneuver. I don’t know if this is fact, fiction, or fantasy, but you don’t either. We don’t know. If there is one thing that I have learned as a psychologist it is that people struggle with the unknown. It creates fear for many and panic for some. The unknown provokes feelings of inadequacy and helplessness.

People don’t like to feel helpless. Feelings of helplessness often encourages us to fill in the gaps (pun intended). We create false realities and often they are the worse case scenarios. Socialism. Noise. Entitlement. Conspiracy against the Black race. The “China” virus. These fantasies create feelings, usually, bad feelings: Fear. Anger. Sadness. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Grief.

COVID-19 has many unanswered questions. We tend to seek answers even when we know the answer is unattainable. When there is no apparent answer or solution to the problem, we will create one. Therefore, we are filling in the gaps with something. Something is better than nothing when it comes to the unknown. The problem is that the things that we come up with, end up being false. Yet it gives people an illusion of control. One thing we have seen is that COVID-19 will not be controlled. It is doing its’ thing!

For some reason, people have taken COVID-19 personally. It is about their rights, their freedom, their race. While I am aware that COVID-19 has hit the Black community particularly hard when it comes to the death toll, it does not discriminate. All people are vulnerable. You can catch it, I can catch it, they can catch it. We can all catch and spread it.

While COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, so many people and policies do. Black women are being killed in their sleep, Black men are still hanging from trees and being suffocated in the streets, children don’t have food to eat, and people are worried about face coverings and social distancing. This is your definition of oppression and injustice. This is what makes you American. I don’t get it, and I definitely don’t like it. Try a little humanity for a change.

I don’t have the answers, and sometimes we find our answers in the most unexpected places. Sometimes, the answers come from out of nowhere. Sometimes, the answers never arrive. Sometimes, we have to sit still, be quiet, and listen. Maybe it is time to be still. Maybe everybody needs to be quiet. What I really want to say is sit down and STFU!