What I learned about COVID-19 from watching zombie movies

I’ve never lived through anything like this before. I don’t know if many of us had. How are we supposed to prepare for this “global pandemic”? For someone who values human contact and being outside, this hasn’t been easy. I don’t think it’s been easy for any of us.

I’ve never learned how to properly deal with moments like this, which makes this very hard.  A little while ago, I commented to a friend I know that I feel a bit more anxious now than I did when I deployed to Helmand, Afghanistan a few years ago. At least, the military trained me on what to expect.

While it’s unlikely that we’ll see walking zombies anytime soon, I recently put together this small list of things I learned from watching zombie movies, and TV in general.

1) The “essentials” are essential—which seems a no-brainer, except that the essentials are basically, food, water, and shelter. And as I write this, there are panicked neighbors posting in my neighborhood Facebook group updates about how the local grocery stories have run out of all supplies. But if I learned anything from watching Survivorman or Man vs. Wild, it’s that we really don’t need to have a whole lot more than this to survive—everything else seems like comfort items. I say this not to criticize anyone seeking to live comfortably, but just to point out that “surviving” really depends on these three essentials—albeit, depending on who you are, of course, there may be many more.

2) No one is immune. We’re all a part of this, which means that we need to look out for each other. Often times, in movies we see catastrophic events turning people against one another. People fighting over limited resources; people erecting walls between one another as arbitrary notions of who is “clean” and who is “not” emerge. I think we need to keep our cool during situations like this.

3) Panicking will get us nowhere.  One doesn’t have to look far to see this idea validated. Just turn on the tv and watch an episode of The Walking Dead, or spend some time watching what’s happening on CNN. I think people tend to panic and sometimes, this leads us into some scary places with our own thoughts. These movies tell us to look out for our own mental well-being, and understand that panic can drive us in unhealthy directions. But if we can keep our cool, we can approach problems logically, without inflicting more harm upon ourselves.


Featured image credit: “Zombies are coming” by honza_dx is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Author: Will Schick

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