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Sonder 2022  •  05 May 2022  •  Miscellaneous

The Plague of Yawning

The true(ish) story.

By William Elsum
The Plague of Yawning

Conspiracy theories are common. Claims that the moon landing was fake, the Illuminati control the world’s governments, and bigfoot is genuinely frozen somewhere underground in the US are just a few you may have heard over the years. 

Everyone also has their own idiosyncratic conspiracy theories. When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, my sister shared with me her little theory:

“COVID-19 is a hoax. Scott Morrison faked it so that everyone would stay inside and not notice him re-charging all the pigeons, which the government use to monitor us.”


I’m all for conspiracy theories. They always spark some fun and engaging discussion, whether that be at a party, at the pub or even in a classroom. 

But I am not here to tell you about a conspiracy theory. 

Let me repeat.

This is not a conspiracy theory. 

What I am about to share with you will be the best thing you’ll learn this week - dare I say even this month. I am about to provide you with a fool-proof explanation that will solve one of humanity’s greatest mysteries. 

A yawn. 

Why is it that whenever I see, hear, or even think about someone yawning, my immediate instinct is to yawn myself? I could have slept twelve hours last night, and still, I will yawn at the mere glimpse of someone else’s yawn. 

But why? 

How have we all been conditioned to act in such a precise manner at the mere glimpse, thought or sound of a yawn? 

Fear not, for I have solved this great puzzle. 

Let’s do an imagination exercise.

Picture yourself somewhere in the world several centuries ago. It doesn’t matter where you are, the only important thing is that the behaviour and concept of yawning does not exist whatsoever.

No one does it. 

No one needs it. 

No one even knows it exists.

Life is good. 

But then on one normal day, as you are living out your normal routine with the same normal people, a sudden desire overcomes your normal self. It is a strange desire, an urge that you have never before encountered. It starts in your throat and, like a soundwave, it extends and expands up to your mouth. 

Suddenly, you lose control; your jaw lowers as your lips begin to form an oval shape. 

You hold this position for a few moments. During these moments, a loose sensation flows through your body. You feel like you could roll into bed, or lie on a couch.

You like it. 

Then, without any notice, your mouth widens before returning back to the usual resting position. The sensation has vanished. 

Before you have time to make sense of what just happened, you look across to your normal friend, who you normally see every day. 

They are doing the same thing!

This is how the yawn started. One person made a random and subconscious decision to yawn and, due its highly contagious nature, it spread almost as easily as COVID-19 has. Even if someone did not yawn immediately upon seeing someone else yawn, the mere sight of it would plant a subconscious seed that would eventually trigger a yawn, whether that be an hour or even a day later. 

Fast forward to the present and yawning has become one of the most prominent activities of daily life. It will dawn on you at any moment and in any situation. Now, this isn’t to say yawning is a bad thing. Perhaps, the reason no one has bothered to solve the mystery of yawning until now (by myself) is that it poses no inconvenience to us. 

Regardless, you can now live freely. I have lifted the burden that is the mystery of yawning off of your shoulders and you are most certainly welcome. 

I would like to finish by unequivocally asserting that there is absolutely no need to research this theory because it is most certainly correct. Trust me!


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