Unless my math is incorrect (and it could be because I’m not great with numbers), this is my 60th blog post. Of all the topics I could choose to commemorate this historic occasion, I’ve chosen one which will definitely earn me my Kat Controversy moniker.
What does social contagion mean?
I’m so glad you asked. Before we dive into this, we should try to come to a consensus on its definition. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), it involves:
“the spread of behaviors, attitudes, and affect through crowds and other types of social aggregates from one member to another. Early analyses of social contagion suggested that it resulted from the heightened suggestibility of members and likened the process to the spread of contagious diseases.”1
There are fascinating articles and studies surrounding this subject. I encourage you to do an online search to learn more, if you’re interested. For the purposes of this piece, however, I think we’ve got a baseline explanation and can now proceed.
Up until the last year or so, I’m pretty sure I’d never even heard the expression social contagion. Now it seems embedded in the lexicon. As with many buzzwords or phrases, it has substantive meaning, but over time that meaning becomes degraded as its overuse deflates its significance. Once everything is being called that term, then nothing is that term.
So, what happened over the last couple of years to make this phrase so popular?
Here’s where the controversy kicks into high gear. Social contagion did not start in 2020, but in my humble opinion, that’s when it went to a whole other level. It was SC 2.0 on steroids!
I understand when the Rona first hit, we were all scared. I was working in healthcare in a nursing home facility in the epicenter (NY) of the crisis. I get it! We were blindsided and nothing made sense. But after a couple of months, still daily working in a hot zone, my coworkers and I began to wonder, “What are we doing? What’s really going on here?”
We cannot forget how unstable people became, chastising strangers in public for not following a mandate (not a law, btw). Some felt emboldened to say and do things they would never have done in the past. The collective began to take over and wanted to rule every aspect of everyone’s daily life with an iron fist.
Is that hyperbolic? Think of how many people couldn’t see dying loved ones or even hold funerals to say final goodbyes. Think of how many outdoor spaces were closed. Suddenly fresh air was the enemy? Let us not forget my favorite five-letter word: M A S K S. Even when compelling evidence questioned their efficacy against this particular virus, there were (and are still) those who remain devoted disciples to the cause. Anyone who does not agree with their belief is a heretic and should be shunned immediately.
Let me state this clearly. What you choose to do with yourself is your own business. If you feel better wearing a face cover, have it. Where it became problematic was when people felt it was within their rights to tell someone else what to do.
I remember scrolling through social media seeing viral videos of people almost (or actually) coming to physical blows, or engaging in heated screaming matches, at the very least. Live and let live and mind your own business were not popular mottos any longer. I blame the media for stoking the fires. I blame the bureaucrats and other experts for instigating and perpetuating the near manic level behavior.
Ok, but that’s just one example, right? Sadly, no. Next came what I shall refer to as the jabby jab. Once again, if you made an informed, free will decision to get it, that’s one thing. But far too many individuals were pressured, harassed, and threatened into injecting an experimental drug into their bodies.
Folks were told they’d lose their livelihoods if they did not comply. Read that sentence one more time. Once again, the mania spread like wildfire, thanks to the media and experts constantly poking at the raw, emotional nerve and fear. It felt as if almost overnight a mass form of groupthink hypnotized many.
Now, we’re halfway through 2023, and the remnants of the Rona and the jabby jab still linger. We’ve learned much as time has proven many conspiracy theories to be far from it. Yet there are some who seem, for lack of a better phrase, stuck in the past. Again, if you have all the information and choose your way, I can respect that.
My concern is that as the social contagion takes hold, you avoid or block out anything which doesn’t align with your belief. Unfortunately, one could argue the media and the experts are complicit in creating these echo chambers. They censor and suppress viewpoints which do not adhere to the agreed upon narrative, their truth.
But there aren’t any examples of social contagion happening right now.
Let me state upfront, I have no issue with adults making decisions regarding their bodies and their sexuality (unless their proclivities are toward children, which is and ever shall be categorically wrong). Advocating that young kids must be affirmed on every thought or idea they have concerning their bodies or sexuality, however, seems positively irrational. Aren’t you as the parent, guardian, adult influence supposed to guide them not blatantly acquiesce? I’m not suggesting we ignore or dismiss them. But when it comes to life and body altering decisions, where is the pause button?
Once again, it seems as if overnight the experts and media were given their marching orders. If you don’t go along with what they not only recommend but demand, you are the problem. It used to be you’d be “killing grandma”. Now it’s “your kid will kill themselves” if you don’t fill them with hormones and/or go through drastic surgical procedures.
We used to agree there was an invisible line no one should cross and if they did, the punishment should be swift and sure. That line was kids. Yes, unfortunately children did suffer, despite our unspoken cultural contract. Evil exists. But when that evil was discovered, there was collective outrage. We were angered and sickened by it, as we should be.
But today to even raise the question of, “Are we moving too fast in this area? Shouldn’t we slow down or just stop?” is seen as hate speech or something. It’s conform or else all over again. As terrible as the previous bouts with social contagion were that I mentioned earlier, this one is the most pernicious and dark. Because it has our youth in the crossfire.
Where is the secret meeting when it’s decided what the next thing will be?
Wherever it’s being held, my invitation must keep getting lost in the mail. Doesn’t it seem odd to you how quickly things change and how powerful elite forces attempt to normalize what was universally considered inappropriate only a few years ago?
The new thing seems to spread so rapidly, not unlike a contagious disease. The thing about some diseases is you can be exposed to them and not even know it. You can carry it and show no symptoms. And some are just lethal enough to destroy you.
I realize for my 60th post, it would have been simpler (and, perhaps more expected) to choose a light-hearted topic. But as I’ve mentioned before, I pray about what content to create. This issue of social contagion and its devastating consequences lies heavy on my heart. I felt led to share it with you in the hopes we can begin to recognize and redirect.
I’ll leave you with these words, not of my own, but from the One who created everything, the only hope for our troubled times.
(Any and all Bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV)
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. May God have mercy on us all.
Look forward to hearing from you.