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When Crazy Turns Sensible

At first, I couldn’t fathom why my friends cancelled our dinner date.

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A friend and her husband were visiting from the East Coast on March 7, and we had planned a dinner out with other mutual friends. Then on the day before our gathering, one of those friends cancelled, letting us know that they were cutting all social contact for the time being. At our dinner, we talked about how crazy that was — and how sorry my out-of-town friend was to not have a chance to see those friends.

Two days later, I was the one cancelling social engagements and getting pushback from friends for being crazy. This got me thinking about the differences in people's thresholds for changing their behavior. At any given moment, one person's crazy is another's sensible. For me, that switch flipped quite suddenly. What I viewed as an overreaction one day became the most prudent course of action just two days later.

I wonder now how this will play out on a societal scale. If we avoid the worst with the pandemic, our cancellations will feel like an overreaction — but that will actually mean that the strategy worked. Would less-strict measures have worked with far less economic devastation? We may never know.

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