We are all stressed out and somewhat disoriented over the current public health crisis and the quarantine. We worry about spreading it. We worry about getting it. We are concerned about job loss, and the impact on the economy. We all have our ways of coping. Some, like free music performances, comedy routines, lessons, recipes, and sharing fun activities like virtual trips and reading and viewing lists, are helpful and supportive.
But there are a few things that need to stop right now, because they are only adding to everyone’s stress, and not helping anyone be safe and healthy.
Cyber screeching “Stay Home!” at each other
Enough with the “stay home” memes. We all know we need to stay home as much as we can right now. Seeing that come up on our screens over and over again is not doing anything but reminding us that we’re trapped at home for the most part. And no, the meme that demands we all call it “safe at home” instead isn’t helping. It still feels like we’re trapped in our houses. “Stay home” isn’t even the right message anyway. What you really need to do is stay around people in your own household. Someone who stays home, but invites five people from across town over for drinks on Friday night is causing a lot more potential exposure than a quaranteened couple who goes for a walk together, giving anyone they pass the recommended six feet of space or more.
Posting memes claiming that oregano will kill or prevent the virus
If there were something out there that would immediately kill off this virus, we wouldn’t be quarantined. Life would go back to normal, we’d just be instructed to take whatever substance held the instant cure. And if it happened to be oregano, there would be no Italians with the virus. Italian cooking involves a ton of recipes and spice blends full of oregano. If it were some kind of magic cure, Italy would not be one of the hardest hit countries.
Threatening, insulting, and lashing out at people with honest questions
Some people are proud to announce they are unfriending anyone who asks if they should still have band practice, visit their Mom, or go to the store to pick up school supplies. This is ridiculous and cruel and immature. No, they shouldn’t have band practice unless the band members all live together already. Visits to Mom should only occur if Mom has been quarantined, you have been quarantined, and one of you needs to care for the other. And shopping trips should be as few and far between as possible, and only for necessities. But you’ll do a lot more to help stop the spread of the virus if you ask for more detail and suggest safer alternatives than if you lump such people in with the spring break partiers who insist they need to keep “living their lives” and refuse to cancel their huge offline gatherings. That just makes people think they should do what they want because nobody cares about them anyway.
Perpetuating urban legends and conspiracy theories
This was not sent out as a biological weapon from the right to kill us off so we won’t vote against Trump in November. Even if you think Trump is the most evil man in the world, he would have absolutely no reason to try to kill off a large part of the population of the country where he currently holds the office of President. That would make him look bad, and it would potentially kill off supporters along with detractors.
The virus is also not a hoax perpetuated by the left to ruin our economy and make Trump look bad. If this were a hoax perpetuated only by the American left, it would not be striking, and in many cases, killing people both here and in other countries. And even if you think the Democrats in Congress are the most evil people in the world, it would not be in their political interest to cause their own states’ economies to tank. And no, they’re not doing it to set themselves up as the heroes that fix it, because they’re politically savy enough to know that anyone could emerge as the “hero,” depending on which side’s spin did a better job.
The health risks are real, and need be taken seriously, regardless of your politics….and both sides are guilty of spreading dangerous misinformation right now.
Using the stimulus checks as an excuse to take swipes at people on government assistance
You guys on the right have a point about people who scam the system. No, you shouldn’t lie about your income or ability to work in order to get free rent, cell phone service, and food when you can afford to have fake salon nails, hair extensions and other high end services, and the latest trends in electronics and decor for your home. No, people who do this do not deserve another $1,200.
Cutting benefits, and demonizing those in genuine need is still not the answer. No cuts we could ever make would stop a scammer. I personally know quite a few government benefit cheats and scammers, and believe me, they find a way to scam no matter how liberal or conservative the current policies might be. All cutting benefits, including refusing to give stimulus money to those on assistance, would do would be to punish the majority of people on assistance, people in genuine need, for the actions of the few that are there to scam the system. And just in case you’re still tempted to label all who receive benefits as “lazy,” remember that a lot of people who receive government assistance are the same people who are now working in the stores and restaurant kitchens to help keep you fed, clean, healthy, and sane during this crisis.
Telling people to “stay positive” or “be positive” or “spread positivity.”
Using “positive” for everything that pleases you and “negative” for everything that displeases you is off-putting anyway. It makes you sound like you don’t have a big enough vocabulary to express yourself, and it’s too vague to convey any real meaning. Are you telling us to remain hopeful, cheerful, calm, happy, serene, forward-thinking, hard-working, or relaxed? Then use that word, not “positive.”
It’s especially unnerving now, when people are talking about a virus and its “positive” and “negative” test results. Find a few more words. You’ve officially gone from annoying to creepy when you tell people to “spread positivity” or “be positive” right now.
Telling people to stop it…or “stahp it”...when they indicate displeasure about being stuck at home.
Everyone’s home is not a place of refuge. Some people live in deplorable conditions. Others cope with various forms of abuse at home. There are those whose physical or mental illnesses may be worsened by being stuck at home. That’s great if quarantine means fun virtual adventures with the kids, cuddling with the love of your life, or settling down in a calm house with a good book or tv show marathon for you. But it isn’t like that for everyone, and people who mention it on social media may be reaching out.
Posting personal ads looking for a “quarantine buddy” or other forms of using this crisis as a dating pickup line.
Several of the single women in some online platonic friendship groups I’ve joined have reported seeing personal ads from people looking for someone to date and move in with them for the quarantine. This is dangerous.
Inviting new people into your home for any reason is not safe at this time. You truly do need to stick around the people who have already been a part of your daily household during this time. If they weren’t already there before the quarantine, they don’t need to be there now. This is aside from the fact that it is unsafe to isolate yourself with someone you do not know well, no matter what else is or is not going on in the world.
Using this public health crisis as a joke or pick up line is just crass. People have died. Others have lost their jobs. Health problems are worsening due to services shutting down and isolation. This isn’t something for you to use to make yourself feel clever.
Clearing an entire shelf of an item does nothing to protect you from anything. You get a lot less exposure to other people if you have your normal weekly groceries delivered and opt for contactless delivery than you do if you stand in a store for the amount of time it takes you to pull every item off the shelf and then check out. And what’s with the shelf clearing of personal hygiene products? Did you not realize soap, shampoo, and deodorant are not beauty products, but are needed for our health until now?
All shelf clearing does is prevent other people, namely the elderly and disabled, who may not be able to carry the huge hauls you can carry, from getting enough to eat and keep themselves clean….and poor nutrition and hygiene make people more susceptible to getting sick. You are making things worse for other people. And just in case you truly do not care about other people, the more people in your town who get it, the greater the risk of it spreading around to you. Leave some food, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies for others.
If reading fiction would provide you with some comfort at this time, please visit Amazon.com tomorrow and help yourself to a free e-book copy of any or all of my novels. E-book copies of all three of my current novels will be available for free for five days, through April 4. I apologize for the giveaway being so short…that’s the longest Amazon’s self-publishing program allows.
Get your free e-book March 31-April 4, 2020 by visiting the “Novels” page on Artist Cafe Utica. Please note only my novels are included in this promotion. I am not authorized to give away work by any other artist.