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Waiting it out

Published by marco on

People’s behavior vis á vis COVID-19 at this point—ten months after the onset of the virus—is like when an action movie’s hero is in the swamp with a straw in his mouth, sucking a barely adequate supply of air through it, while his pursuers are still somewhere up there, looking for him.[1]

Were they still within earshot? Would they hear him if he just came up quickly for a good, solid breath? Were they completely gone? Was he suffering underwater for nothing? They’re not still around, right? I mean, how could they be? They might still be here, but not right here, right? Just a quick peek wouldn’t hurt, would it? He’d go right back down after a good breath.

This sounds a lot like the arguments I’ve heard recently about COVID-19. As if the virus cares.

Still, the pressure to get out becomes enormous, especially as the psychological damage mounts. It’s the devil’s choice between risking death by COVID-19 or death by a thousand cuts imposed by self-isolation.

That, at least, is the perceived calculus. In reality, it’s not death by a thousand cuts, but inconvenience, for the most part.

No doubt: it’s a long time to experience inconvenience. We’re not used to not getting our way pretty much all the time. And, for some, it’s not just inconvenience, but actual acute suffering. But the most vocal advocates of “opening up” act, first of all, as if they just invented this mantra and, second of all, as if they aren’t the ones riding this thing out in relative luxury, many of them extreme.

There’s another crucial difference: In our action hero’s case, he would risk only his own life by coming up for air. In our case, getting COVID-19 means, most likely, spreading it to others and helping spread misery to others. Solidarity is needed.


[1] I remembered it incorrectly as Rambo, but Reed Snorkel (TV Tropes) taught me that I’d probably misremembered Chuck Norris from Missing in Action and also that “reality is unrealistic”.