What the U.S. Navy Might Teach Us About the COVID Lockdowns
25 Apr 2020 If you are feeling a bit anxious after being quarantined for a month, you are not alone. Perhaps a recurring U.S. Navy sociology experiment can shed some light on your feelings, and on the path ahead. Did you know. . . Several times annually, the U.S. Navy conducts a bizarre sociology experiment. It confines 165 persons to an industrial office space without windows, and then deprives them sleep and oxygen. Within a month of confinement, each person's ability to control their true inner nature begins to markedly erode. The talkers struggle to stop talking. The quiet ones seek solitude. The angry ones show their anger. And so on. The subjects of this experiment have a name for it: Pre-Pre-Hate Week. Soon, their emotions become more raw and arguments among the participants become the norm. This is Pre-Hate Week. Then, for a few days or so, everyone hates everyone: "If I have to see your stupid face one more time!!!" This is Hate Week. After Hate Week, folks become open to a sense of hope that they are on the back side of the experiment. They see a light at the end of the tunnel. Relations among the participants slowly improve. The experiment that I am describing is a typical submarine patrol. When a submarine leaves port, it shuts its hatches, submerges beneath the waves, and isolates the crew. Every day, they see the same walls, the same equipment, the same food, the same faces. It becomes infuriating. To prevent idle hands from doing the Devil's work, the crew is kept extremely busy, often with meaningless busy work. I recall one patrol in which we had to create Training Binders to manage our crew training plans, which were already captured in other Training Binders. Binders that summarized other binders! Getting only four-to-six hours of sleep a day is the norm. Drills, lectures, tests, simulations, maintenance, operations, and Training Binders! With sleep deprivation, the crew is always operating at 70% mental capacity. To prevent fires, the oxygen content in the air is dropped from its usual 21% down to 19% or lower. Without oxygen, a stray spark will struggle to ignite. With less oxygen, the crew also becomes lethargic and less mentally alert. In this sort of prolonged isolation, the social interactions among the crew are reduced to High School for 20-year olds. Cliques form, competitions emerge, pranks are performed, and trolling becomes an epidemic. Does any of this feel like your current state of mind? Are you struggling to maintain your composure? With protests and other mischief erupting around the world, it seems as though we are all entering Pre-Hate Week. It might get a little worse. We're all not quite yet in Hate Week. But afterward, we'll see opportunities for hope, and a return to normal will become an ever brighter light at the end of the tunnel.