Fear Of Strangers.

There has been a gradual change of personal interaction around here since the pandemic continued so much longer than many thought it might. At the start, people kept their distance, but were still chatty. Whether familiar dog-walkers, or people never previously encountered on walks, everyone was ready to stop and talk, if only about the virus, or the weather.

This week, I noticed more people in the supermarket keeping their distance, and obeying the rules. Then out with Ollie, I could tell people were not only keeping a distance, but settling for a wave from a long way off, rather than the six-feet gap to allow a reasonable conversation. In some cases, this is to be welcomed, as there are a few walkers who like to ‘latch on’, and talk at length about things like Brexit, or house prices.

But in general, I detected a palpable sense of fear. Fear of strangers, as well as fear of people they already knew reasonably well, like me.

Walking back to the house, I refelected on why that might have happened. I conclude it might be about survival. When all this started, few people really expected to get the virus, and even less to die from it. But the stark statistics of 32,000 deaths in the UK cannot be ignored, as we see them every day on the news. The longer the virus scare continues, the more it creeps into your head that you could be number 32,001.

Other people are now potentially lethal. Especially strangers.

90 thoughts on “Fear Of Strangers.

    1. The Stockholm Syndrome.. a profound bit of analogy, Rachel. I like that. Kinda funny that we end up assigning human perspectives to an enemy to humanity that could care less who or what we are.. and either lives or dies without being aware of its existence beyond the instinct to reproduce itself on something it can feed upon. Oddly.. if it were a much higher life form, in certain circumstances, I could imagine me giving my life to it so it had a chance to live. Odd, us humans. Judgmental as hell. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I wish you well in all this.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Rachel. We have learned a new way of behaving, and in some cases, new ways of working and socialising too. There may well be a societal-shift following the events of this year.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A friend approached while we were in the parking lot at the pharmacy on Monday. I immediately put my mask on, she looked surprised. since a mask is to protect her from me, I was surprised when was surprised (a lot of surprises there). However, she, it turns out thought the mask was to protect me. I rather think a lot of confusion in what to do permeates these chance meetings, perhaps as much as the feat you felt. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Masks have a lot of associations for us. Dentists, robbers, suspicious people, burglars. We have spent a lot of our lives learning to be wary of, or to fear masks. We will have to reeducate ourselves.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We need a lot of reeducation. Here, a lot of people seem to have missed the point of events of the past 130 years dealing with equality. It turns out masks are not associated with a political faction and the anti-maks folks seem to think like Trump. Yes, we have a lot of reeducation to work on. warmest regards, Theo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. We seem to be very luck here in Poland, less than a 1000 deaths if the numbers are to be believed and as a result most people have just carried on as normal with a mask on! There are restrictions on public gatherings, bars, cafes and restaurants but a quick pole of friends and relatives shows that most people are back at work in factories, construction and other outdoor activities. Children are still off, but family gatherings are still common and as such childcare seems to be dealt with within the family. Gosias sister is a nurse in a covid designated hospital so that put us all on edge a bit, but with only 17 cases in our county so far she has only seen a few patients.
    I’m conscious it could easily get worse, but it will take a lot to panic the Polish I think ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’ve noticed people being extra cautious for several weeks now when I’m on my daily walk. When I’m walking down the sidewalk, I step out over the curb to give some extra distance. I’m the type of guy who says hi to everyone, but I don’t latch on to anyone. It does seem a bit curious to me that some people walk right past without looking my way, nodding, or greeting me back. The fear is real.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Although Trump would have you believe otherwise, numbers keep climbing in several states here Pete. Itโ€™s funny, usually Iโ€™m a very outgoing person, but when I bump into someone in our apartment complex, or while walking, Iโ€™m very cognizant of making sure thereโ€™s even more than 6ft between us. Thatโ€™s usually because the majority of people arenโ€™t wearing masks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Few mask wearers here, Kim. maybe less than 10% of the people out and about. I don’t wear one yet, as they have limited effect. But if they make them compulsory in shops, I have some handy.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We’re still in lockdown in Scotland for the time being, which I think is right. It seems to be all confusion and mixed messages in England. Just because London has passed the peak doesn’t mean everywhere is is the same. A second wave would be utterly devastating for NHS staff to face.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Our numbers in LA county (CA) are still out of control high. “Covidiots” are rampant. I shall continue to stay home and hopefully avoid them. I agree that July would be a safer time to start reopening, but with everyone suing the govenor he is backing down sooner than I feel he should.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish we had that here, too. But no: flocks of tourists, no masks, no social distancing. I don’t know how things are in supermarkets as I don’t go there, but I’m afraid it’s not different. “Covidiots” everywhere.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Not that I’m totally with the German decisions, but I wouldn’t call them a “disastrous relaxation of rules”, and I haven’t heard/read og Germany going back in lockdown. Let’s hope what they do will work.
        Stay safe, too,
        Pit

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I was just repeating the latest news broadcast, Pit. Apparently infections spiked again immediately after the partial relaxation. I’m sure my German readers will let me know if the BBC is exaggerating. ๐Ÿ™‚
          I read since that Merkel is refusing to reimpose lockdown, so the news was rather previous.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. In my part of the world, the fear is seen more in older generations than the young population. They had to barricade the beaches because too many were gathering there to chat and play games as though it were any other time.
    What they don’t realize is that while they might not fall ill, they can take it home with them and potentially infect family members.
    Canada is slowly relaxing its sanctions now. I hope and pray we don’t get hit by a second wave. So sorry for the UK’s loss of life- heartbreaking.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jacquie. We have had the much-anticipated ‘relaxation’ since Monday. Traffic started getting heavier again, people are playing golf and other sports, and some families are visiting each other. I dread another wave of infection, just as bad as the first.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is very interesting. I find the opposite to be true in my locale in Canada. At first I detected fear in people’s eyes. People tried not to make eye contact in fear that someone might start talking to them. Now, that things are somewhat under control and people are more comfortable with social distancing its outcome, they gladly meet your eyes and eagerly say hello while staying at a safe distance. It’s possible that the difference is because the virus took a difference course in the UK than it did in Canada. Still it is interesting to see such differences. Either way, stay safe!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think a lot of it is down to where you live and how young or old you are. I’ve seen plenty of the younger ones not afraid of anything, and in busy towns you don’t have much choice about being too close to someone, I’ve seen the pictures of crowded busses and tubes today, they may be scared/worried but they are doing it anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, with the announcement of a return to work, many people have no choice. Either travel in to their job, or face unemployment. I would like to have seen the regulations carried on until the end of July at the earliest.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Hi Pete. Too many folks here still persist in their cavalier attitude toward COVID. Trump supporters particularly have turned wearing a mask or keeping one’s distance into a political statement. This morning I ran to a local convenience store for milk donning a mask and gloves. I was the only one so attired.. Even the young thing behand the counter had no mask. Luckily there were few in the store. We are on our own here so it is up to each of us to care for ourselves as best we can. Best from Florida.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. It seems to be par for the course, Pete I am seeing it here although infection rates are very low and for us here we haven’t had any new cases for nearly 3 weeks…But the wariness is still very evident and I am happy with that…Be well and stay safe ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the current 32,000 figure here is undoubtedly an under-estimate, Sam. Many people who died of this condition before the lockdown might well have been given ‘Pneumonia’ as a cause of death.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The sense of fear is everywhere… even to the point of some desperation… but still shy of overt “going nuts over the cliff” running in the streets. The largest impact is the wearing of the masks. We humans do a LOT of communicating with our facial features and we have been conditioned since Adam & Eve to interpret facial signs between each other as a form of self-preservation.
    You might recall the popular explanation for soldiers to render military salutes between each other. When knights were covered from head to toe in armor the flipping of the helmeted visor allowed for some element of being recognized to others. It’s evolved to being a salute to acknowledge the authority of an officer status versus a those of lesser rank.

    We humans are also social people and this distancing thing, especially among loved ones, is just unnerving to most of us. Over here in America, while the numbers are high across the board compared to other nations, one would be hard pressed to find an average person on the street who knows anyone who has the virus, has had the virus, or died from the virus. For much of America this entire thing is “another person’s problem”, and wondering what all the hub-bub is about… so they blame the media for being fake news alarmist.

    The other impact feeding the fear, subliminal or not, is the complete lack of understanding in the progression and impact of the disease itself, the unknown as to the longer term impact on our respective societies, and the pure fear of economic upheaval, with governments everywhere being unable to focus on a plan.

    So.. when you walk with Ollie and acknowledge those distant waves… everyone is becoming wary… and in a way suffering quietly. Not a happy time to be sure. We are becoming strangers behind our masks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Doug. I have yet to know anyone who has died of the virus, but I know people who have lost someone close to it. Masks have long been associated with bandits and other criminals too, so seeing so many people wearing them is disconcerting, I agree.
      But they might one day become the ‘new normal’, and public preceptions will alter once again.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  14. There is only fear here among the more educated, Pete. Most people who can go out, lots of us can’t, are taking any notice of the social distancing rules at all. This is quite to be expected, South Africans are very non-compliant that is why our road deaths and murder rates are so atrociously high. PS, I must have missed it but I didn’t know you had a book (referencing Jay’s comment above).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t have a book, Robbie. I just told Jay that he must have been writing that part of his comment about someone else.
      Sorry to hear about the careless people in your country. Actions like theirs must make you even more fearful.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  15. Pete, you are absolutely right. You never know who might be a “Carrier”, so the natural inclination is to stay away and follow the “shelter at home” guidelines, even with the economic catastrophe it caused…here in the US with less than a 1% infection rate, and a 94% recovery rate from those who are infected, we shut down and you know what ongoing battles have resulted….necessary to be socially distant, but unsettling indeed – and it does stoke fear between us

    Liked by 3 people

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