In 2020, I was living in an apartment that was two blocks away from a hospital. In Queens. New York. You know, where the pandemic basically started. COVID-related mayhem started hitting the fan in my neighborhood well before it was even on the radar of my relatives outside of the city.
Three of my friends’ parents died, along with a friend’s two-year-old. Ambulance sirens and helicopters kept me up at night.
My brother, living in the outskirts of Oregon, saw none of this; from his perspective, my stress and anxiety were completely unwarranted.
“You’re watching too much news,” he said. But I wasn’t even watching the news. I was merely observing the death, grocery store lines, and unavoidable chaos right outside of my door.
In his mind, I was being paranoid; in mine, he was being an insensitive idiot.
We were both right.
When I finally took a vacation in Oregon a few months later, I saw how easy it was for him to think that I was paranoid—there were no mass signs of death slapping you in the face in the suburbs of Portland. Just trees.
I saw how over time, people’s beliefs shifted: yesterday’s “overly paranoid/tinfoil hat” behaviors morphed into “the sensible thing to do,” which lead me to the Relativity Theory of COVID Cautiousness:
Wherever you are on the spectrum is normal; everyone else is weird and has issues.
The Relativity Theory of Being a Snowflake
Everyone has A Thing—something that they’re just a little bit more sensitive about than others and are more likely to notice. Does this mean that those people are oversensitive? Nope—it just means that they have superpowers.
There is no one “right” amount of sensitivity. Because we don’t like to think that we’re snowflakes, we’re fast to avoid this charge by pointing out other areas of life where our emotions don’t get involved quite as easily.
Just remember: everyone has A Thing that came from somewhere. You have your own reasons for feeling like things aren’t fair, or a “hook” you can point to for feeling disadvantaged—even if you don’t advertise it. Maybe you can’t see someone else’s thing, but it’s just as real as yours.
The Relativity Theory of Generalized Trust
The Relativity Theory of Motivation
The Relativity Theory of Being Informed
This is why I don’t think people should feel guilty for ignoring the news.
The Relativity Theory of Health
The Relativity Theory of Self-Disclosure
The Relativity Theory of Deliberation
I love thinking about the Relativity Theory of Everything as an empathy hack to help understand others. When some people of privilege make wild accusations that the new generation is too soft, or that women and minorities are overly coddled, I take a step back and realize that yes, this is the very worst thing that could be happening to them.