Privilege & Pandemic

There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to show you what people’s true priorities are.

My first pet peeve of this pandemic is all the posts that shame people aren’t sheltering in place. Yeah, I get it, these people are endangering themselves but more importantly they’re endangering others. However, this tone of shaming people isn’t really what we need right now. There are a lot of reasons why people aren’t sheltering in place right now. Some people might be less informed than others based on how they consume media. Things have been changing pretty rapidly, and keeping up has been pretty exhausting. Some people have unplugged because of all the doom and gloom, so perhaps not everyone has gotten the memo. Although, that does seem unlikely one week in, but seeing as we live in a country that foments a basic distrust of the media, it’s also highly likely that plenty of people think this is fake news. There are a lot of reports, statistics, anecdotes, scams, and fear mongering – of course it’s easy for people to think that this is an overreaction. Plenty of people believe it’s an overreaction as part of their coping mechanisms. Shelter in place can be traumatic for a lot of people in different situations, especially here in the Bay Area where income inequality is high, housing is expensive, and a ton of people just lost their jobs. A certain level of denial isn’t surprising, and expecting everyone to immediately adapt to shelter in place, a wild concept for which most of us have no precedent, was always going to be unrealistic. Because it’s easier for people to be in denial about what’s happening because then they can be in denial about the larger truth, namely that this might last for months. So many people don’t have the resources, emotional or financial, to plan for three months of unemployment. This shit’s fucking frightening. Sitting alone at home is going to force a lot of people to truly examine their life decisions, and if you’ve made bad life decisions then you probably don’t want to sit at home in stultifying social silence. Shelter in place is going to be detrimental to many people’s mental health in ways that we might not even know already. I’ve heard that people are still drinking a lot, just at home, alone. I’m not surprised to hear that people are still attending church, especially churches with older congregations, because the elderly can be socially isolated already, and church can be an essential part of their well being. Other people are panicking because their living situations aren’t ideal. Without public transportation or Lyft, some people do not have easy access to food, and even when they do get to the grocery stores they might be wiped clean. Some people are living in a house with an abusive partner, abusive roommate, or an otherwise hostile or unsafe environment. It’s not surprising to see people resorting to unsafe behavior in order to remedy these things. Because reports say that 80% of people will only have mild symptoms, some people aren’t afraid of getting it, which, yes, I know it’s selfish, it’s a horrible excuse. But many people are weighing their various needs against the framework of shelter in place and looking for ways to fulfill their needs within these swiftly shifting times. If you see someone endangering themselves or others, shaming them through vague posts on social media isn’t helpful for anyone’s morale. Be compassionate and have the conversation with people you care about.

social isolation

 

Because if you have the privilege to be able to shelter in place, if you’re not facing dire financial consequences, if you have a nice home, if you’re there with people you love, if you’re not suffering from mental health issues, if you have access to food, if you know you’ll be able to make it three weeks or three months – lucky you. I just don’t want to hear about it. Say or do something helpful.

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