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I'm sitting in my living room, surrounded by sleeping dogs, it's late at night (for me) and I can't sleep. I'm wide awake trying not to stress out about the pandemic that is sweeping the globe. Despite warnings to create a six-foot buffer between ourselves and others. Despite requests to stay home, only going out on brief trips when needed. Despite the growing number of people contracting coronavirus and the growing number of deaths – people are still living their life as if it's 2019.
I keep waiting for the news that new cases are slowing. I live in Marysville, Washington and while we're not perfect, I see people standing in line with a grocery cart length between them. I see people actively avoiding crowds – leaving aisles in the grocery store to one or two people. And, other than Costco (which is only allowing a limited number of people in the warehouse at a time), I don't see crowded parking lots at the grocery stores.
But we're not close to the end; this is just the beginning and I can't get my head around what is happening.
I was watching the news today and saw crowds of people at Alki Beach. People in other states are reporting crowds at parks, on walking trails, and in New York, there was an outdoor farmer's market despite the shelter in place order.
What in the fresh hell is happening?
People blame the media. People blame politicians. But I'm going to blame the adults who are choosing to scream “FIRE!!!” in a crowded theater to justify ignoring the advice we're all hearing on repeat at this point. All over social media, there are people sharing their conspiracy theories. I don't care and I simply don't want to hear it. What does your opinion of why we're in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic have to do with the fact that people are getting sick and dying, our economy is in a free fall, and this is our new normal for at least 12 more weeks (according to the news today).
“I have a right to an opinion.”
Yes, we all have a right to an opinion and we've gotten used to sharing every flipping thought that floats through our heads over the past decade. There was a time when we kept our thoughts to ourselves or only shared them with our inner circle of friends and family. Now, our inner circle includes up to 5,000 friends and millions of followers. We're living in a time when an unqualified individual can share their thoughts as if they're an expert, using sketchy blog posts they came across in a Google search as proof that their “opinion” is correct.
I've reached a point where I just want to scream “SHUT THE F$&% UP!!!” But, instead, I unfriend people because I can't take the stress of seeing their wackadoo opinions floating through my newsfeed when all I want to see if cute pictures of dogs and funny memes. Yeah, I'm basic.
People are F$%#ing Scared
The traffic to my blogs has dropped dramatically and I'm not alone. Bloggers across all niches are reporting record drops with the travel niche being one of the hardest hit. This is evidence, to me, that people are soaking up as much information as possible about COVID-19. Or they're binge-watching Vampire Diaries or some other series. The people who are trying to educate themselves about coronavirus are coming across someone sharing an “opinion” while backing up that opinion with weak “my brother-in-law knows a lady that said…” anecdotes. This sucks!!!
I had no idea that I was friends with so many professional virologists. But, apparently, Facebook is filled with them.
These sudo-scientists are repeatedly trying to point out that coronavirus isn't that big of a deal. They believe that the number of reported cases is being exaggerated. They're blaming one or both of the political parties for creating this chaos. Some are blaming the media and, I'll admit that in the beginning, I thought this seemed a bit like click-bait. And, my favorite, is the theory that China created COVID-19 in a lab as germ warfare, tested it out on their own citizens, and then released it on the world.
At this point. I don't really care. I just don't want to lose my job, my home, or my life. I don't want to lose my family, my friends, my dogs (because I can't care for them). I want to stop having nightmares about what's next.
Screaming “FIRE” In a Crowded Theater
This weekend, I watched a former Facebook friend post everything she could find in an effort to prove to her network that COVID-19 isn't that big of a deal. She lost me as a friend when she suggested that we just go about our lives, infecting each other, so that we can develop a natural immunity to the virus. This is her opinion despite the lack of evidence that people who survive coronavirus have are immune. I guess anyone with a compromised immune system can suck it.
How many people believe this? Are these the people who are crowding the parks and beaches despite the requests and orders to stay home?
I get it, everyone handles a crisis differently and staying home all day every day gets old fast. If I wake up tomorrow to alien spaceships in the sky, I'll most likely lose it in a very ugly way. But, so far, this is a human crisis – no aliens involved that we know of – and we're doing a piss poor job of handling things. I wish we could go back to sharing our dark thoughts with our inner circle instead of blasting it out over the world (as I'm doing now). I wish people would stop sharing misinformation about coronavirus to feel important, to get lots of shares and comments, or just to stir up drama. And I wish people would just stay home because every time we leave the house, we put others at risk.
This continued belief that coronavirus isn't a big deal is contributing to the failure of US citizens to shelter in place (stay the hell home), which is going to lead to our government forcing us to stay home in order to slow the spread of this virus.
Ummmm, have you seen pictures of Italy?
The Current Reality of COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the incubation period of the coronavirus is between 2 to 14 days after exposure. That means that we can have it for two weeks, going about our life and passing it around to everyone we come into contact with before we show any symptoms. This is why we need to limit our contact with others.
If the grocery stores have to close due to the spread of coronavirus, then what? If the doctors, nurses, police, trash collectors, mail carries – if our service industry – many of whom come into contact with people all day every day – get knocked sidewise by coronavirus – then what?
The current reality is that people are scared, anxiety is running high, and it's a slap in the face to everyone when we see so many people shrugging their shoulders and heading off to the park with friends for a picnic. And this increased stress isn't doing our immune system any favors according to several studies.
And to my fellow anxiety-ridden people – if social media is adding to your anxiety but you want to stay in contact with humans, then start unfriending people like it's a fire sale at your favorite shoe store. They won't know or care because they're too busy trying to convince the world that COVID-19 isn't real or screaming that The Walking Dead was training for what's to come.
Oh and don't forget to express your gratitude when you do go out…