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The coronavirus pandemic has absolved Aristotle who argued that humans have never been atomized individuals but are social beings whose every decision affects their fellow humans. COVID-19 pandemic is making it clear that each one of us is responsible morally for the risks that others face and the mortality in our neighbourhoods.

The response of the United States when it comes to the pandemic is an example of how attempting to respond to the pandemic individually can complicate the fight. This is evident from the vast amounts of data that were processed by 97 advanced computers that measured the amount of time spent on American frontier between 1790 and 1890 and correlates it to compliance to social distancing measures. The results of the data indicated that those who can migrate to the frontier survived and passed their traits to the next generation. The individualism that has been passed down for centuries is now affecting the response to the coronavirus pandemic as people have some in-born trait that impacts their beliefs and culture.

Although it has been over 130 years and might appear that the things have changed significantly, researchers have found that the culture of individualism is slow-moving. This means that it is difficult for people to embrace complete change even after many years. Evident from the lockdown orders that went into effect in many U.S states, counties or states that are more individualistic complied less with the orders that required them to stay at home and close non-essential businesses. Apart from the individualistic states showing the higher likelihood of people to stay at home, these states also as shown by the study on Minnesota and Minneapolis, were less likely to give their donations towards COVID-19 pandemic crowdfunding kitty. This has hampered the fight against the coronavirus. It has led to a massive increase in the rates of infection and by extension deaths caused by the virus.

The data from over the years and rankings have shown the US repeatedly as a highly individualistic country on earth. This has had many positive impacts such as high economic growth, innovation and its global standing as a superpower. While this approach has helped the U.S achieve many things, scientists claim that it might complicate the fight against the coronavirus that requires a collective effort of not only medical practitioners but everyone in the society and all countries in the world. From social distancing, washing of hands, sanitizing, wearing of masks and staying it home, sticking to these measures is a collective effort of everyone in the society and not an individual responsibility.

Individualism can help at specific times, but this varies with how the times are. During normal times, it raises innovation among individuals and effort. However, in times like the current one where people need to bring their heads together and sacrifice for the greater good of the society, it can be costly because it discourages collective effort and actions that are critical in fighting societal challenges.

While the research was mainly focused on the US, other countries that are known to be highly individualistic face the same issue. Britain, for example, is facing similar challenges in the war against the coronavirus. From this evidence, it should be clear to every country and player in this combat that some things need to change quickly during extraordinary moments such as the one that we live in. The pandemic damage that the pandemic has shown indicates that there are things that require a collective action plan. Such a challenge in the way we live has shown the collective and connected nature of humans and their character. One wrong move from a single person can spell doom for many others and vice versa if we all act correctly.

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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for Big Data & Analytics Tech Brief


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