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ANNA (1st year)

“I listened to a podcast about the book “Crowds and Power” by Elias Canetti a while ago. One thought that has stuck with me was that Canetti names the need of an individual to exist within the crowd, to remain less fearful of the unknown. The idea is that once someone is part of a larger group, the unknown becomes less scary. The idea stuck with me especially because of our changed living circumstances due to the pandemic. Pre-covid, I used to go out a lot since I very much enjoy it, and I also need to surround myself with as many different people as possible. Since that hasn’t been an option since lockdown, I’ve noticed that it requires more effort than it used to, to put myself out there. But it also challenges me more to acknowledge new viewpoints and the hurdles that come with them. I would say that socializing is somewhat like a muscle, and when it hasn’t been trained in a while, it becomes increasingly hard to utilize it. Moreover, what I find frustrating is the lack of acknowledgment of those needs. I fully support the measures prohibiting us to see fewer people, but I find that there is often a lack of understanding for people who derive social comfort from big crowds. The loss of this option is often dismissed as trivial, especially when you’ve just moved to a different city. Meeting new people and figuring out who you are through interaction with a big group is truly a basic need. There is this strong hierarchy when it comes to which kind of concerns are viewed as justified to be concerned with and in that hierarchy, missing the randomness of masses of people is dismissed as merely blowing off steam. What I am trying to say is, while the pandemic is affecting everyone, and not going to clubs or big events is certainly not the most severe effect of Covid-19, the implications the lack of this experience has on many people should not be ridiculed by presenting it as a solely self-absorbed need.” (Anna, 1st year, Berlin)

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