The Covid-19 pandemic shows us the importance of building a new default.

I had an unusual start to New Year 2020. My husband and I had wrapped up a hike as has been our recent norm following a new year and were getting some food when I noticed on a store window the following excerpt:

“Discussion welcome: At the Climate Action Summit in New York, the scene of the abused and deranged child Greta Thunberg driven by her controllers to a near psychiatric breakdown while ranting about doomsday, the actual controller of the mass climate hoax, Mark Carney, the head of the Bank of England, gave the keynote speech at the climate…

I moved to Brussels, Belgium a little over six months ago. I didn’t know anyone in advance — I moved because I was offered an Advanced MSc. candidacy in European Economics and Security. I was excited to live at the heart of the EU. At the same time, having spent almost the entire last decade in the United States and Sri Lanka, I faced the uphill battle of building my network from scratch in Brussels. I reached out for advice from one of the core individuals who had been mentoring me over the past 10 years: my undergraduate thesis supervisor.

Imagine history and sociology textbooks in 2050 talking about “The Coronavirus pandemic and toilet paper scare of 2020.” It sounds ridiculous to even think about, but who would’ve thought that many conversations in early 2020 would begin within, “Why are so many people panic buying toilet paper?” One of my favorite lockdown tweets up to date has been:

It’s tempting to think that “The Great Toilet Paper Scare,” is a result of the era of misinformation ushered in as a side-effect of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” However, panic-buying is a behavior that has accompanied many a situation of uncertainty and…

Today, going 24 hours without hearing, talking, or reading about the coronavirus would be a miraculous feat. Discussions about Covid-19 over the dinner table and social media sites have multiplied arguably almost as quickly as the virus itself. Following the adoption and recommendation of social distancing and lockdown measures in varying parts of the world, most of the conversations now vary between the effectiveness of these distancing measures and coping with them. The former usually include individuals who are reluctant to adopt social distancing measures, regardless of expert advice.

The expert recommendations are clear.

A little over a year ago, I happened to look up from my phone while on a bus. Without meaning to, I noticed that every single person I could see on the bus was either staring at their phone or connected to it in some way — listening to music, playing games, taking pictures and scrolling through Instagram, watching a movie etc. It made me think about how much time I spent on my phone on a daily basis — without actually meaning to do so.

This is not an excoriation of social media or the use of phones —…

Kulani Abendroth-Dias

Behavioral Science for policy-making. M.A. Psychology, Princeton University; MSc. European Integration: Economics & Security;

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