The anti-vax movement is a problem that will literally solve itself.
When COVID first started, I saw it as a significant threat to humanity that people would hopefully rally around. I did my best to follow protocols like wearing a mask, not attending large gatherings, washing my hands, and receiving my vaccine as soon as possible. I wasn’t perfect, I could have done more, and I was an asymptomatic carrier at some point, but I did my best. Towards the end, my patience for COVID protocols was pretty thin. However, I still did them as I thought collective action to protecting others was a worthy goal.
My hope for COVID was that people would rally together, work towards defeating a common enemy, and we’d be out of this situation in a year or so. In a way, people responded the way I hoped, but not nearly long enough. When the CARES Act passed and lockdowns went into effect across the country, I think there was a certain sense of a shared emergency. The government sent the signal that this situation is terrible. While people were going to suffer, it would have been worse if we did nothing. We had to “flatten the curve” to protect the hospital system’s current capacity and “raise the line” to increase its capacity. Meanwhile, Operation Warp Speed developed extremely effective vaccines at a record pace.
On the bright side, people’s patience at the beginning was great. However, the Trump administration flat out wasted the time we gave them to ramp up PPE production and distribution, we learned more about the virus and how to adapt, and in the summer of 2020, with more people outside and protocols in place, cases started to drop. Despite some good news here and there, social media and extremist conservative news sites started spreading misinformation almost immediately. All of this caused us to lose collective interest in doing the right thing. As I said, I did too.
What was most frustrating during COVID wasn’t even the virus itself, I didn’t lose any friends or family members. No, it was watching more and more people lose patience for the COVID protocols and the anti-vaxxers not only claiming that the virus wasn’t a threat, but that it didn’t exist. They argued that even if the virus existed, masks don’t work, the vaccines have discarded fetal tissue in them, a 99% survival rate makes it less dangerous than the flu, and Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders were unconstitutional (they weren’t, now they would be, but not in 2020). The level of negativity coming from those with hyper-individualistic outlooks on life was deflating to those following public health recommendations and orders.
Meanwhile, COVID became the third-highest cause of death in America.
The new and more contagious delta variant is now spreading rapidly. With the spreading occurring, the CDC has recently recommended that people start wearing masks again. I have trouble rationalizing masks any longer for myself or others. The benefit of masks is not to protect yourself; it’s to protect others in the scenario that you are an asymptomatic spreader. Mass mask usage would be very effective in slowing the spread of a virus. I intend to wear one the next time I have a cold, but why would I want to protect those who aren’t vaccinated against COVID? I was already an asymptomatic carrier, I’m guessing I’m not going to get sick.
The other day, I thought to myself, “you know, I think most people like me, with two exceptions.” There have been 3–4 emotionally toxic people that I have had the misfortune of being forced to work with at past places of employment. Those people hate me because I refused to put up with them. My social contract is to be kind and friendly to all and even go out of my way to accomplish good deeds, except those who refuse to offer me any respect or compassion or respect whatsoever. I understand will give more than I get, I admit to having people-pleaser tendencies, but I do not put up with toxic people.
This is sort of an “is it ethical to punch nazi’s?” or “mean people suck” paradox. Is it right to be kind to jerks? Is it moral to be mean to mean people? To clarify, why should I inconvenience myself for people who would criticize me for wearing a mask in the worst of the pandemic? Why should I protect those who refuse to get a vaccine? These were the same people screaming, “it has a 99% survival rate!” but dismiss a 95% vaccine efficacy rate at preventing infections and a 99.2% rate of preventing hospitalization and death.
I recognize that some people cannot get vaccinated like children, some adults with health conditions, and specific disabled individuals. I suppose if I’m in an incredibly crowded area with children nearby, like a grocery store, then I will wear a mask. However, if the goal is to protect the anti-vaxxers, why should I? I hate what I’ve become and how my views have changed on this subject. I’ll never forget a close friend of mine claiming, “maybe the people who get sick deserve to die”.
I’ve lost my patience for being forced to be the adult in the room.