SAFE – In the time of Covid

Orginally published June 6, 2020

SAFE – Situational Awareness For Everyone

With the first weekend of Phase 2 (Virginia’s and other states’ Covid-19) reopening, we need to be aware of what could happen.

In an article about Mob psychology, author Spencer Baum helped explain sociologist Mark Granovetter’s theory of Threshold models of collective behavior and how humans react differently when in crowds.

“Granovetter proposed riots were started by people with a threshold of zero — instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two.

His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice.

Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, — and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside …”

It’s about how, when you’re in a group, you often give over much of your individual decision-making process to the group. How when you’re in a group you are, psychologically, not the same person you are when you’re alone.

SO WHAT does this have to do with people going out this weekend?

No matter what your opinions are, your political bent, or social stance, you cannot control others, especially when emotions are running high. This is the first time in months when groups of more than 10 people (up to 50) can get together. 

Whether or not, we are uncomfortable in the presence of crowds, there will most likely be more people around us than we are recently used to, or want to be around. This alone can raise anxiety and stress levels. 

Many peaceful protests are scheduled, and some protests may occur spontaneously. With these protests, comes the chance for violence.

  • whether from outside sources
  • in response to a perceived threat
  • reaction and overreaction to the police (on both parts).  

The chances may not be high, but if you plan to be out and about this weekend and the next few days, you might find yourself in a situation where you didn’t want to be.

SO WHAT can we do to prevent something unwanted happening to us?

  • Research the areas and events in the places you plan to go – don’t be caught by surprise.
  • Avoid being in the middle of a crowd – have an exit plan, and tell it to those with you.
  • Don’t argue with other people. Let them have their say – you won’t change their mind, just as they won’t change yours when emotions are up.
  • Don’t get caught between groups of people arguing – either side may perceive you as part of the other group and treat you accordingly.
  • The presence of weapons of any sort is a warning – assume those with weapons are willing to use them
  • Give yourself the gift of time and distance (catchphrase taken from Greg Williams  – Arcadia Cognerati) – If you are too close you cannot be fully aware. Recognize that a situation can change and spread rapidly. You can only take action on what you are aware of. 

Stay SAFE – Situational Awareness and understanding Human Behavior should be part of your daily routine.

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