*Sigh* WHAT ARE WE DEALING WITH HERE?
2019 we watched the unthinkable unfold: a virus that crept around the world ticking off one country at a time while the rest of the world watched in trepidation. And though we watched, it still seemed someone else’s problem.
2020 was the year that shuttered in the realization that the United States was not bigger than a basically invisible foe, much smaller than the tip of a very sharpened pencil. WE as family were among the first to experience the coronavirus and I can attest, it was not fun. Nor would I like to do it again. And, I would love very much to one day completely recover from the post-COVID syndrome that has plagued me since. 2020 was quite the year, to say the least. One for the history books that I hope is never repeated. However, 2020 did end with one positive and that was the coronavirus vaccine(s).
2021 brought a hopeful vibe to a world that had just battled a collective foe, and seemingly had it running for its very existence. But like all viruses, covid or ‘Rona was we like to call her here was not done, enter Delta. Rona and Delta are quite the dramatic duo and like Thelma and Louise they are looking to leave a legacy.
A few days ago I was walking into a store with my friend and I’m not sure about you, but every time I do this there is this moment of hesitation, mask or no mask? I will be honest and say that I rarely mask outside of work. We are required to mask where I work and truth be told, I hate it (though I completely understand it!). So, when I leave work, I take the mask off and it is almost as relieving as taking my bra off at the end of my day. Hmm, I should clarify that I wait to do this until I get home. I mentioned as much to my friend, and she agreed yet we were both lamented, “this will probably just be our new norm” at least for a while.
Let’s be honest, we all learned about the pandemic of 1918. It was horrible to learn and even more horrible to realize its devastation. However, it’s one thing to study those horrible historical events and quite another to actually LIVE through one.
There is so much fear, uncertainty, trepidation, anger, and confusion among us at the moment-and for a good reason. We’ve never experienced anything like this before. It seems we have a few different camps:
a.) People that trust public health departments, local government officials and scientific and medical communities.
b.) People that do not understand everything, are not crazy about the government telling them what to do yet adjust to change or government recommendations and, for the most part, follow the “rules”.
c.) Then, there are those who are blasé about it; “if I get it I get it, no big deal”.
d.) And, of course, last but not least, the people that believe everything is set around a conspiracy.
Luckily, the majority of people fall in either of those first two scenarios.
Dare I even add this in here? What a debate! Again the camps:
a). MY right to freedom of choice.
b). OUR right to freedom of the collective public safety.
c). This is a a conspiracy and they are trying to make us all zombies.
d). I don’t really care, what’s on Netflix tonight? For one, the Social Dilemma, I highly encourage this!
ITS NOT ABOUT YOU
This is less about the individual and more about:
our healthcare workers.
our law enforcement officers.
our state officials.
our local grocery store clerks, sanitation workers, delivery drivers and service employees.
These frontline people often do not have a choice to work from home, sheltered safely. People who quite literally are putting their lives at risk, just so you can buy your favorite cereal at the supermarket, or have your medications delivered, right to your door. So wearing a mask when necessary, staying home when sick and being considerate of local public ordinances so that we still may patronage our local shops, restaurants and stores is a very small thing.
SLOWING RONA AND DELTA
Never has there been more debate over a virus in my lifetime, and maybe not in anyone’s lifetime. As with any virus, the infection rate will take different shapes. A steep curve, represents an extremely high rate in infections and reaches its peak within weeks. We have witnessed this, and we still are as a huge number of people can get ill very quickly, resulting in hospitals becoming overwhelmed. The end result: the healthcare system(s) struggles with each virus surge. The latest hard hit area being Florida.
“That would have less people infected. That would ultimately have less deaths. You do that by trying to interfere with the natural flow of the outbreak.”
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President.
Hence, protocols and safety measures for the general public.
Essentially, we are trying to interfere with the natural progression of this virus, which is to stop the spread. I always think of one of my favorite movies when we talk about slowing down this virus, World War Z. I have watched it what probably a hundred times, I think because it seems plausible. Although, we can’t hide from this one.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Many of us have turned to Doc Google (I’m just as guilty, I Google everything) for answers. And answers there are! Good answers. Bad answers. and everything in between. So then, what do we do as a society? The best way to form an opinion is to try to try to learn but what if “learning” via Doc Google only sends us further down the path that we WANT to go and which may not be the correct path? Fr myself, I am placing my trust into the only thing that I FEEL can be trusted right now: SCIENCE. Of course, there are various “experts” on science and there seems to now be an unlimited amount of experts in the medical community. So then where do we turn for answers? And just what do we do?
The scientific community has worked so hard to sift through all of the information, and lack there of, trying to find answers. When I doubt “them”, I remind myself that they have family, friends and co-workers that they care about and are working so hard to safeguard. It was easy to be suspicious, I mean it was record-breaking speed that the vaccines came to us in. HOW can they KNOW they are safe? They don’t, not entirely but the unlimited amounts of clinical trials and data say they are “mostly” safe. Are there outliers, yep. Just like me and the fact that I now belong to an infamous group known as the COVID-LONG HAULERS. I am an outlier. COVID does not affect everyone as it affected me. It is simply HOW my body chose to react to the virus and how the virus chose to “infect” me. *sigh*
In the midst of the chaos and the upending of healthcare systems globally, it became apparent that we did not have enough PPE. So, the CDC, the WHO, and even the US Surgeon General urged Americans not to use face masks, saying they were less effective in the general public. The reason this became an issue? At the time, global PPE shortages. Yes, our health workers should have been and should be prioritized, but they should have handled that differently. It set the tone for suspiciousness and a severe lack of transparency.
So then it became who do we believe? Where can we trust to get our information from?
Enter Doc Google, and from there the myriad of information avenues if endless, literally endless. If you believe one thought, Google it it will forever take you down a road of “like” information so as much as we say we “investigate” our sources, those sources have been all linked together to the same end result.
Again, I cannot stress watching the Social Dilemma.
INFORMATION VS. MISINFORMATION
Regardless of what your personal, political or health views are, avoid getting your information from only one source. Politicians should never be idolized. They are meant to be public servants, not celebrities. Doctors should never be idolized, politicized or trusted if they claim “personal” responsibility for any cure, treatment or medical advice that lays claim to success that has not been clinically proven through an accredited source. If someone does make such claims, then THAT in itself should signal an alarm, and in truth is an untrustworthy source of information.
And remember, there is no “real” transparency, nowhere, no matter where you get your information. Someone always has an agenda, even if that agenda is as simple as calming public fear. This is why it’s so important to look to look to our scientists and doctors, from TRUSTED sources. Look to credible agencies like NCBI when scouring for clinical trials and data. Look to our universities like Harvard University and leading medical centers like John Hopkins for accurate and up to date information.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
This weekend I watched an ongoing text debate between my three sisters, Ally (pro-vaccine) vs. Roxy and Dawn (anti-vaccine). Their reasons are varied and I see the “why” into much of the argument: fear of the unknown. That is where we are at folks. We are modern day 1918 trying to figure a way around this mess and still have some semblance of “normalcy”.
I will be honest and say that I started this debate off by answering a text from Roxy on Friday, which quickly became heated. Then I “peaced out” for a bit and went to my “safe” place which is here on my blog with all of you. In reading another blog, I stumbled upon the Social Dilemma, which opened my eyes to exactly the problem that was feeding into the ongoing argument between my sisters. *sigh*
Let’s go back, 30 years ago. What did we do? These same conversations existed for sure. But back then there seemed to be more conversation we actually talked to each other, on the phone or in person. And our information mainly resulted in trusted sources like medical books/journals, our physicians or the nightly news (yes, back then there was definitely more trust in the news).
Today, we wake up with our phone in our hand and we go to bed much the same way. There is rarely conversation and when so, it is deeply polarized. Life has been largely determined by our phones, tablets and computers, and this is having grave consequences on all of us, especially our children and grandchildren. We CAN change that narrative. I know that I am giving it the “ole college try”.
Put our phones down. Put our tablets down, and get off our computers with this 24/7 screen mentality.
I know I say this like my parents did when they said that they “walked uphill both ways home from school in a blizzard” but, when I was a kid we played outside ALL DAY. It was an effort for my grandma to get us in at night. I could go all day without eating and not care. Today, our kids sit mesmerized in front of their devices, snacking as do us adults. This may be why obesity in the United States is another pandemic.
Another challenge: lets have conversation(s) that do NOT center around politics, world crises and vaccinations. These conversations are important, and need to be discussed (global warming and escalating consumption/waste) but these conversations should NOT be our only discussion(s).
It’s here to stay, and I do love it. There are SO many great ideas to be shared, and such positive outlets for creativity. It is also a great way to stay connected with friends and family who live far away. That is what social media was intended for. And it can be used for good, again we are in control here (at least we should be).
It has grown into something different, because of the direction of some of the social media tycoons, but also because of us. At the end of the day, we ARE the source of their success.
“We’re the product. Our attention is the product being sold to advertisers.”
Former engineer Facebook and Google, co-founder of Asana
Who is he (if you didn’t know)? Former Facebook Executive (2006-2010). Former President of Pinterest (my all time favorite app!), and CEO of Moment, an application for mobile devices that tracks screen-time.
When they asked Tim Kendall about screen time in his own home with his children, he said that his kids basically had no screen time. The former Facebook executive does not allow his own children screen time, and rarely himself. Let that sink in.
“In a family context, it’s important to establish windows of time where everybody’s offline. It could be after 9 p.m. It could be between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., during dinner. But establishing those as norms that everybody sticks to. And another norm is having offline areas of the house. Say, as an example, we don’t bring phones into our bedrooms, period. Or we don’t bring phones to the dinner table.”
Tim Kendall, Moment