Search
Close this search box.

Solidarity blog: The Butterfly Effect during the Pandemic

The butterfly Effect in our daily life

Around 50 years ago Edward Lorenz, a meteorology professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, posed a really controversial yet scientifically challenging question: “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”.

Although the real purpose of that question relies on the deterministic strand of philosophy and Mathematics as well as the Theory of Chaos, this question has been helpful to explain and tackle some modern problems in the last century.

There are so many answers to peculiar question, and every single one of them drags a different movement or way of thinking.
Whereas some astrologists agree that Lorenz’s motivation was to illustrate the fact that the Universe is totally unpredictable, and any random movement, action or motion has a crucial impact on another entity in a direct or indirect way. 

However, the same question tackled some laws introduced some previous centuries by Isaac Newton, stating that within the apparent randomness of chaotic complex systems, there are underlying patterns and repeated interconnectedness.

Nevertheless, all variants within this debate seem to share one principle in common: Any action committed, has an impact on something else.

Recycling one single plastic bottle has an impact on society.

Being bullied in our childhood has an impact on our future.

That very first kid has an impact on our present.

The actions you did today, have an impact on your “Tomorrow”

 

Science applied to a Global Pandemic

We are nearly reaching one year since the SARS Covid-19 pandemic kicked in our lives, having a clear and direct impact on our lives, our perspectives, our futures and our society.

Edward Lorenz could argue that that isolated outbreak in Wuhan, China is having a great impact on a small town in Sweden or a big city in the US. The flap of a butterfly has the whole world in checkmate.[1]

Subsequently, a global pandemic, (including lockdown, self-isolation, quarantine, diseases and death) will clearly affect our near and far future.

Furthermore, there are other elements related to the pandemic that affect the population, such as separation from loved ones, loss of freedom, uncertainty about the advancement of the disease, and the feeling of helplessness.

As reported in a recent survey administered during the Covid-19 pandemic, children and young adults are particularly at risk of developing anxious symptoms. The study found out people from 3 to 18 years old developed symptoms related to difficulty concentrating (76.6%), boredom (52%), irritability (39%), restlessness (38.8%), nervousness (38%), sense of loneliness (31.3%), uneasiness (30.4%), and worries (30.1%).[1]

 

Impact of a Global Pandemic in Society

Even though Lorenz underlined that even the smallest actions can have enormous impacts and the size of the move is not proportionally direct to its outcome, experts agree that the results of this pandemic are highly likely to be immeasurable.  

 

I asked some volunteers in the organization Syncro Synergy in the city of Zagreb, Croatia about the impact of COVID-19 in Society and the answers seem similar to Lorenz’s theory.

 

“Society is like the human breathing, is life, a constant movement of breathing in and out” stated Nika, a young volunteer from Austria, “Society is a big human, with all characteristics a human has, including feelings, interaction and life. During the pandemic, this big human might be hurt, might be sad, might be suffering, but we all are part of that human, and in some ways or others we suffer all together”.

 

Therefore, we can believe that the impact of this pandemic will sneak into not only isolated individuals but also in every single one of the members of society. The question is, will society become more united and collectively aware?

 

How will society become after this chapter in History?

Besides the fact that this has been a tremendous dark chapter in history, it does not necessarily mean that we will be reborn, and we would evolve positively with all the lessons learned. “Unfortunately, I do not think Society will learn from this, I do not think the “big human” will stop for a while and reflect on what has happened in order to grow progressively to strive and become a better “big human”. I think people will obviously take time to re-adapt to the “new-old normality”, but after that, society will fail to remember what happened, and we won’t have learned anything from this.” Expressed Nika.

 

Zvonka, one of the supervisors in Syncro, Zagreb, said: “It’s hard to talk about a life after the pandemic because it really sounds fake”.

“I don’t really like crowds, but now this made me feel extra-anxious, although I miss being with my friends in my favourite bar. It’s not about getting drunk, I can even order a coffee, ”

 

However, the flap of a pandemic has clearly taught us how the littlest things, the ones we are most used to, the ones we do (or used to do) are the ones we enjoy the most and therefore, we strongly miss now.

“I would have never imagined that I would say this but, I miss being in a club, sweaty, surrounded by so many people that you can’t even move” said Olivia, a Swedish volunteer in Syncro. “But obviously, visiting my grandparents is probably what I specially feel is lacking now; I have been trying to avoid contact with them for 1 year now- she stated, There is always a feeling about “What if something happens?”

“I think as soon as everything is over, I will visit my grandma, she is 96, and I really miss her, and we are trying to keep her safe, so we have not seen her for over a year” shared Kiki, a Slovakian volunteer. “And also, I will buy a ticket to somewhere abroad, and travel”

“I think I would walk around the streets, and will question myself: “and what did I learn from this? Thinking about how going with friends to the park used to be super normal”. Expressed Nika, “I don’t even need a party, I need social contact, I need people. And I was also thinking that now that people have gone through this, they would make use of their knowledge to reflect, but those, I’m afraid, are just my wishes”

In conclusion, it’s totally up to us to decide if we want to learn from this experience and evolve from it or just let it sink into oblivion. We have a little power on the butterfly flap but a lot in the impact we want it to have.

 

Eduardo Zamorano

 

Bibliography

[1] Vernon, J., 2021. Understanding the Butterfly Effect. [online] American Scientist. Available at: <https://www.americanscientist.org/article/understanding-the-butterfly-effect>

[2] Saladino V, Algeri D and Auriemma V (2020) The Psychological and Social Impact of Covid-19: New Perspectives of Well-Being. Front. Psychol. 11:577684. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.577684