Property of the Editors: Following rules is not as easy as it seems

By Amalia Laskaris, Editor-in-chief

With the rise in cases, the pandemic has affected everyone differently. Personally, my mentality shifted to become more cautious than ever before, as my family’s health is my top priority. However, I did not want to put a halt on my life completely once the school year started. I still held the belief that I could have somewhat of a normal life while following the proper mandates.

During the first week of October, I took it upon myself to research some fall festivities my boyfriend and I could attend that strictly followed COVID guidelines. With everything booked, we came across Didier Farms—a pumpkin patch that claimed to be COVID friendly. As much as we kept our distance, others did not; kids were using the same sled to slide down the slide, there was no sanitation after each merry-go-round ride, and the lines for kettle corn were not socially-distanced at all.

When we attended the pig race, I was in utter disbelief. The farm was a madhouse with barely any breathing space. I estimated over fifty people were packed against each other, with smaller kids running around wearing no masks. What should have been a fun day for us was cut short. 

Over 50 people crowd around the fence to watch the pig race at Didier Farms. While the farm required social distancing, very few people followed the rule. (Photo by Amalia Laskaris)

The guests should have known the dangers of not following the rules. After all, science had clearly shown the research behind these mandates. I could not understand why people were acting so careless and inconsiderate of other people’s circumstances. 

Perhaps, though, this is not a question of morals or character; people were not purposefully ignoring social distancing with the intent to harm others. It is more likely that this carelessness was caused by the bandwagon effect. There is a heuristic people use to determine what to do, think, and say: the principle of social proof. In other words, social proof is the shortcut people use to decide how to act during these unprecedented times. 

Beliefs we hold are strengthened when we are around others who hold similar views. In such a divided world, people are placing less value on their beliefs, and acting impulsively to abide by others’ actions. This bandwagon effect concerns me in a broader sense—as I see people not listening to science or following the rules.

Will our society have the integrity to stick to their morals when pressured into doing something they are not comfortable with? Will our society have the courage to say “no” when others say “yes”?  Most importantly, will our society have the determination to become the leader and voice our world needs when others continue to follow and go against their own judgment? Unless people build this confidence, we will live in a society without purpose. 

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