GENERICO.ruRussiaInfodemia and Pharmapatriots

Infodemia and Pharmapatriots

Petr Sarukhanov / “Novaya Gazeta”

In Facebook fights, “the fighters' hand is tired of stabbing” – and people who start the topic of vaccinations, in the end are often forced to delete their posts: the war of the worlds is unbearable, brother goes to brother … “We got anti-axers, they seem to continue to shout to us that the earth is flat! ” – write people who, obviously, have already managed to get more than one vaccine. “We got kovidobes, their canines and hooves grew from the complication of revaccination, and their IQ went to zero,” retort those who, for one reason or another, obviously did not get vaccinated. Very rarely, but still sometimes a quiet voice of reason turns on, and someone writes: “This is all because the issue of life and death is being discussed. Fear gives rise to aggression. “

“The world has been living in fear for two years now. Why is this catastrophe not “settling in” in any way? The answer to the existential, and not rhetorical question “for whom is the Wuhan bell silent” is that he is silent on those victims of the pandemic and infodemic who were carried away not so much by the planetary epidemiological catastrophe as by the collapse of decision-making and value priorities at various levels of government < …>. Whatever good intentions the leaders of different countries and peoples may be guided by, their efforts inevitably break up against the evidence of the everyday consciousness of individuals <...> responding with waves of anxiety and psychological inflation of trust to <...> the leaders' actions ”,

– this is an excerpt from the book “Society and the Pandemic: Experience and Lessons in Combating COVID-19 in Russia” ( pdf ), one of the chapters of which was co-authored with a large group of scientists by the head of the Department of Personality Psychology at Moscow State University, Academician of the Russian Academy of Education Alexander Asmolov . The book was published at the end of 2020. But it is incredibly relevant today, especially the chapter “The Psychology of the Crisis – Reconstruction of Perspectives in a Pandemic and Infodemic”.

Alexander Asmolov. Photo: Anna Zhavoronkova / “Novaya Gazeta”

– Alexander Grigorievich, the book in which you took part as one of the co-authors is largely devoted, as I understand it, to the search for a new normality against the backdrop of a pandemic. But, perhaps, in order to somehow detect it, you need to understand the most striking abnormalities of this period?

– I would name another book in which you can also get acquainted with a special view of the pandemic and see those moments that went unnoticed. This is a great collective monograph Goodbye COVID? edited by Konstantin Gaaze, Vyacheslav Danilov and others. It was also released at the end of 2020.

In different approaches, as its authors show, the traditional understanding of a disease as a disease of one person changes dramatically.

Failure to understand the transformation of views on the disease sometimes leads to a weakening of the authority of science, as well as to a lack of reflection on the possibilities of power.

In reality, we have, first of all, a systemic anthropological crisis of cognition of the world and are faced with three deficiencies – understanding, trust and meaning of what is happening.

The pandemic, among other things, has brought us many different clichés. Hiding in them from the real situation, we turn into rhinos from the famous play by Eugene Ionesco. Among these clichés, one of the most dangerous is bringing psychologically different people into one category – the category of covid dissidents.

Where do these clichés come from? In conditions of various catastrophes, complexes of xenophobic behavior break through to the surface of consciousness, at the origins of which is a rigid “black and white” division of people into “friends and foes.” In order to drain the aggression arising in a catastrophe situation, “aliens” are stigmatized – they are hung with affectively colored labels. Now, I bring our situation of searching for “foreign agents” to the point of absurdity, the “Covid agents” are labeled as “Covid dissidents.”

Let me emphasize that any replication of such symbols of hatred will inevitably lead society to an even greater socio-psychological stratification and growth of attitudes of xenophobic behavior.

As a result, the search for a way out of a planetary catastrophe, a critical analysis of the various real sources of escape from vaccination is often replaced by the centuries-old propaganda technology of witch-hunting of the 21st century – “covid agents”. Thinking like this is like talking about the average temperature in a hospital, because behind this cliché are people with different psychotypes, different strategies for coping with a difficult situation.

The pandemic construct itself, as the authors of the book Farewell to COVID ?, note, at the time of its height is perceived not so much as a manifestation of the disease, but as an alarm signal leading to a stressful situation. In other words, it is very risky to compare the covid with the plague or the Spanish flu, because in this case, the scale of the epidemic translates the phenomenon into a qualitatively different category, and we are faced with an evolutionary challenge when the usual identity markers become different. AND,

when we talk about covid dissidents, we are beyond the grasp of this difficult situation and are losing the ordeal that has befallen humanity.

Why did these or those political “dinosaurs” die out? Because they lacked sensitivity to variety and novelty. Because they clung to rigid standard solutions in qualitatively changed situations, followed the beaten track of mobilizing familiar stereotypes, and did not look for other ways of development. Therefore, do not be surprised that such “dinosaurs” turned out to be various totalitarian regimes, which, when faced with the evolutionary challenge of the covid, closed their eyes, saying: “This is not with us; this cannot be with us, because it can never be. “

– Do you include Russia here?

– Of course, unfortunately, I'm also talking about Russia. In Russia, we are faced with an uncontested proposal for a way out of the pandemic situation – vaccination with exclusively domestic vaccines.

Let me remind you what absolute evil is. The absolute evil is the absence of alternatives, the absence of any choice.

It is the deprivation of alternatives that often leads people to a variety of methods of psychological defense, including protest behavior as a reaction to blocking a choice. And, sad as it may seem, one of the barriers to overcoming the most difficult situation in our country is the phenomenon that I call pharmacological patriotism. As Yuri Vizbor once wrote: “… and also in the field of ballet we are ahead of the rest of the planet,” – now in the field of vaccination we have also tried to get ahead of the rest of the planet.

One of the modern posters “in Soviet style” calls for vaccination. Social network

When completely different people declare that they do not want to be vaccinated, this is not always a reaction to the vaccine as such – behind this lies the “multicolored” motives. This may also include a protest reaction to pharmacological patriotism, i.e. reaction to absolute evil in the form of impossibility of choice.

The question is not whether the Russian vaccine is good or bad, better or worse than foreign ones. The point is different – in the psychological reaction of people to the fact that they are placed in a situation of imposed decision.

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