Fear of missing out is the real pandemic.
I had a good “Covid Cry” yesterday. Most days I can pretty much keep a grip on the dystopian reality we now live in, but every once in a while grief knocks me over and I’m a puddle of tears. The cry is never for one specific thing–it’s more of a general catchall weeping. Tears and boogers pool at my chin for the unending chaos, the uncertain future, the angst of decision making, the mass confusion, the lack of an end in sight, and of course the mounting sickness and tragic deaths occurring daily in our country.
Living thru a global pandemic is hard. And most people don’t like to do hard things, we avoid them at all costs. Especially Americans. Generally speaking, Americans are soft. I know this is an unpopular opinion and we like think of ourselves as tough, but that’s just our self-proclaimed brand. I beg to differ. Majority of Americans are soft because we don’t know what it means to experience true hardship. We think hardship is the WiFi going out. Or Amazon taking too long to deliver our laundry detergent. We confuse hardship with inconvenience. We joke about “first world problems” from the comfort of our airconditioned homes. We’re whiney and selfish and entitled. And this pandemic is exposing us for who we really are.
Just for a moment, think about what we’ve been asked to do over the past 5 months. We’ve been asked to stay home, wear a mask, and not gather in large groups. That’s all. That’s it. And WE CAN’T DO IT! We whine about personal freedoms, planned weddings, little league, birthday parties, graduations and vacations. We feel entitled to these norms and we’re terrified to miss out. We want them like a petulant child wants a binkie. “But my friend got to have her wedding last year! I want MY wedding!” Except last year there wasn’t a global pandemic Pam. You have options, you just don’t like them. Re-schedule your wedding for, oh I don’t know, a time when there’s no pandemic. Or have it over Zoom. Or cancel it. Difficult times call for difficult decisions.
Americans also like to brand themselves as independent. You know another word for independent? Separate. Which we are not. We all live together in a shared society, and individual actions affect the greater good. So when one person in a community goes on vacation they risk bringing Covid back with them, putting their entire community at risk. That’s how the virus spreads. We know that for a fact. We see examples of this in news coverage every single day. Yet based on the vacation pics all over social media, no one seems to give a shit about the greater good. They care more about their summer holiday and the perfect Instagram pic. As a society, we are only as strong as our weakest link. And our weakest link just got back from Cabo.
A common defense for not following Covid precautions (other than conspiracy theories, which I will not even dignify with a mention here) is that everyone has a different risk threshold, and people make choices based on how much they’re willing to risk. And that would be fine if we all lived in our own bubbles. BUT WE DON’T. We are communal creatures living in neighborhoods, cities, and towns, and we’re all interconnected. We shop at the same grocery stores, walk our dogs down the same streets, and go to the same doctors office. Your risk-taking directly affects me. So you may be fine traveling this summer, but you didn’t ask for my consent to come back into our shared spaces afterwards.
Are we really so afraid of missing out on traditions, vacations and celebrations that we’re willing to risk potential illness or death? Death is as serious as it gets folks. The stakes don’t get any higher. Can we not press pause for a year or so until this situation gets under control? Can we not sacrifice a BIRTHDAY PARTY for safety? There will be other parties, other vacations, other milestones in life. I can almost guarantee you won’t die from missing one, however I cannot guarantee you won’t die from Covid.
Forget needing a treatment or vaccine for Covid–what America really needs is a swift dose of compassion, empathy and solidarity to get us through this critical time in our nation’s history. God help us all.