Social recession

Letters to the Editor

Social recession

Monday, May 18, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The bonds of togetherness and exchanges are part of our experience as Jamaicans. We were cultured for interaction; we like to be up close and personal.

Social distancing, 'stay-at-home' orders, isolation, and quarantine have changed our cultural patterns of interaction. These obligatory responsibilities resulting from the pandemic may have adverse psychological effects on people's mood; ability to work, learn; and our sense of community. People may develop feelings of anxiety, apathy, fear, loneliness, depression, social isolation, and stress. These unnerving, lingering emotions and feelings may result in social recession.

This steadily squeezes away human kindness, bonding, togetherness, and generosity, people become self-interested and self-serving, while joblessness, poor living conditions, addiction, and crime become an individual's problem and not a societal one.

The social crisis created by the pandemic may also increase inequality, exclusion, scorn, stigma, discrimination, and death threats which causes social pain that seems to be ignored by many. These problems are breeding grounds for increased crime which will impact the economy we are so eager to reopen. They will also impact the moral, spiritual and cultural behaviours of the society.

Social stability is equally important to be achieved as economic stability; they work in cohesion. Consequently, if not properly addressed it may lead to long-term negative implications for several socio-economic groups.

The questions therefore are: Are there any plans by the Government to assess the impact of the pandemic on the social and/or psychological man? Is there a mechanism in place to address the new realities of the citizenry who were adversely affected?

Many businesses will accelerate the development of automation capabilities, thereby removing some jobs from the context of human interaction and involvement, resulting in short- to long-term job loss. This pandemic will leave many with a dependency syndrome that may result in a mental entrapment of despair.

The social man has been impacted and requires an intentional mechanism geared towards recovery.

Simone Cunningham-Heirs

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