A nurse facing viruses, both biological and memetic.
January 5, 2021 6:41 AM   Subscribe

covid, Fox News, America, and me “You know, your parents have been on the receiving end of weapons grade psy-ops for years now, right?” I think about that a lot. Sometimes it’s the only thing that allows me to approach this situation with any equanimity.
posted by bitmage (61 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
I work in healthcare (but have been fortunate enough to have avoided most of the effects of the pandemic so far) and this is spot on. The sheer wrongheadedness of anti maskers and antivaxxers, out protesting that Trump is and always will be the president, is astounding. But as depressing as that essay is, it does my psyche good to know there are others out there even more frustrated than me at the behavior of some of the people around them.
posted by TedW at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2021 [6 favorites]


I think covid might be the one thing that has pulled my parents back from the brink. Fox News was a fixture in our house starting around 98. If a parent was home, Fox News was on at max volume. They went to sleep with Fox News on the TV. The only thing that would get them to switch the channel was the brief respite for Jeopardy or the Simpsons, but beyond that it was Fox News Fox News Fox News.

But now my mom who has had cancer and my dad who has had crohn's disease are both finally retired, expecting to be able to finally enjoy their lives after spending 50+ years as perfect little soldiers for the protestant ethic, are faced with the true threat of sickness and death fucking up that capitalist promise. They're both educated enough to understand basic science and germ theory, and so are, thank goodness, appropriately scared.

So that's one thing. They still do bad votes and have crappy opinions, but at least they're not directly themselves participating in the death cult.

But then on the other side we have my little brother, who as an example group texted us pictures on NYE of his girlfriend baking cookies for the cookie swap NYE party they would be attending that night. Approx 30 people, in a house, unmasked of course, eating cookies together. He won't wear a mask because he refuses to "live in fear," this dumb little fucker who won't leave the house without three firearms. He thinks the covid death numbers are a hoax.

And I think that's been the key for my parents. Not only having to confront for the first time that this bullshit they've been lapping up for two decades is factually incorrect and dangerous to them in particular, but that it has poisoned their son. They are still lost forever on the political side, but this complete spitting in the face of basic science and reason is finally, for once, a bridge too far.
posted by phunniemee at 7:08 AM on January 5, 2021 [104 favorites]


Thank you, phunniemee, the news about your parents' partial awakening was really good to read today. Even an incomplete realization is great to hear about. I feel like I've read the dog-bites-man parents-lost-to-Fox story a thousand times. I hoped I'd start to hear stories from the flipside when COVID started killing them, but weirdly no. But maybe it's starting now? It has to start sometime! People have to venture out of Comet Pizza and start noticing the physical world around them at some point because we just can't sustain a cult of this enormous scope indefinitely... ...Right?!? If there are two parents somewhere who've even partly seen through the fog, there are probably more. Maybe it means the edifice is crumbling at long last. It may not be much, but it's something, you know? When there hasn't been anything in forever. A little wavering candleflame in the stygian bleakitude. Anyway, thank you.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:27 AM on January 5, 2021 [15 favorites]


I’m sorry that wearing a mask doesn’t seem majestic or involve diesel trucks or firearms — that they don’t make movies out of people wearing scraps of fabric on their face.

This feels so to the point of how many people behave. The fact of the matter is that for most people (i.e. those who don't provide essential services) the best thing you can do for other people right now is boring. Staying in, not doing anything outside the house that you don't absolutely have to is not the stuff of legend. It lacks drama, and nobody's going to give you a medal for it. It's a sacrifice but it's not the kind of sacrifice that feels splashy and cinematic. And there's not going to be a moment when you, personally, turn the tide. Things will be really dull and lonely for a long time and then they'll slowly go back to being less dull and lonely. And that's it.

All in all, narrative tropes of individual heroism do a shitty job of preparing us for collective action. Especially the sort of collective action where patience and passivity are the qualities called for.
posted by jackbishop at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2021 [69 favorites]


Equanimity? I guess right now equanimity is for better people than I. But I do know where my civility is. I know where my equanimity is, and I know where my forgiveness is.

I just have to climb over a mountain of bodies thirty feet tall and a hundred yards long to get to it.
posted by tclark at 7:50 AM on January 5, 2021 [6 favorites]


> My job has never been more frightening or worse — and I’m a fucking tough lady, I was a burn nurse for a decade and I’m covered in 60+ hours of tattoos — and they’re all parroting Fox News talking points at me.

I am not religious and have a finite amount of empathy, and so I'm honestly beyond caring how or why people like this are the way they are, and my only health-related concern for them is the risk of them spreading the virus to others due to their ignorant, selfish decisions.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2021 [12 favorites]


the stock market, aka the rich people’s feelings graph

Well, I'll be using that from now on.

(The "subscribe" field every four paragraphs is really frikking distracting.)
posted by jzb at 7:54 AM on January 5, 2021 [44 favorites]


Heh heh yeah I'm so angry about this shit all the time. I can't imagine how incandescently furious I would be if I worked at a hospital and my immediate family members were spreading this poison.

This morning I checked one of those cell phone data tracking maps and realized, for the first time, that my hometown basically resumed regular activity patterns after the spring lockdown. Maaaybe they went down 10-15%. And here I am, constantly talking myself out of buying coffee from a cafe because I don't want to have to drink it while walking down the street! Honestly, staying home all the time is not fun but it's not unbearable for me. But...when I think about my hometown continuing on as usual, it feels like we're all going crazy.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2021 [23 favorites]


A day or two ago I found myself embroiled in a comments section with someone who was disappointed her son had bought into "all this nonsense" about COVID-19, the stated nonsense being that it was serious and that masks and distancing helped. Oh, and the son was 52 years old, pleading with his septuagenarian mother to take precautions.

I tried my best to suggest that if for no other reason than to save her eight grandchildren the trauma of burying Grandma, she might want to talk to her doctor rather than putting her faith in the releases of covidtruthnow (dot) com. I mean, the idea that the tests are wrong 97% of the time makes great copy, but let us use reason for a moment and see where that gets us.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:00 AM on January 5, 2021 [3 favorites]


From the article:

Everyone I’ve met (online mostly, thank God) who is anti-mask (or anti-vax) views themselves as the hero of their own story. [...] They believe themselves to be Lone Mavericks of the Truth, serving the God of Personal Freedom, like health-points can be earned on a video game system, where functional lung tissue is is assured if you believe in both Jesus and that America is a meritocracy.

Fox is no doubt exacerbating this. But I think a good chunk also should be attributed to some people just being dang self-centered and egotistical. ....A friend elsewhere linked me to a story about a Facebook group of gun enthusiasts, who liked to share a particular selfie - photos of themselves holding handguns, and pointing said handguns at (or in some cases resting them against) their own genitals. The upshot was that this was a protest against a common point of gun safety training - that one should never, ever put a finger to a gun's trigger unless you were about to shoot the thing. In these photos, these men all have fingers hovering juuuuuuuuust over the trigger, or in some cases resting on the trigger, as a sort of finger in the eye to this safety advice.

In April, one of these men suffered the inevitable - he was making a video for the group, and his finger twitched and his gun discharged and he shot himself through the testicles. But he still posted that video, which concludes with him pressing a wadded towel between his legs. In the corner of the screen, there apparently a copy of the Constitution he'd printed out as a set prop for his original video. He chronicled his recovery from his injuries - and the rest of the group made him the group's head admin, because "he doesn't deserve to have everyone calling him an idiot".

Again, Fox News deserves a huge share of the blame in this. But part of the problem is that there are too many people who think "oh, that's never going to happen to me, though. It's someone else's problem, not mine." It's a very short jump from "pfft, trigger safety is wimpy, I know how to handle a gun just fine, lemme show you" to "pfft, masks are stupid, I'm not gonna get Covid so I don't need one."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on January 5, 2021 [35 favorites]


Also, I am not and never will be a prepper, but this pandemic has made me understand them a bit better because one of its lessons is that when climate change or some other disaster hits there is no god damn way people are going to band together for the collective good when in this instance rich people couldn't pay their workers to stay home for a while, governments couldn't or wouldn't pass laws to facilitate various positive public health outcomes, and ordinary people couldn't even wear a piece of cloth over their mouths when they went outside.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:02 AM on January 5, 2021 [53 favorites]


There's not a day that goes by that I'm thankful that my family back home live in a #covidzero state. My parents are just on the borderline of 60. My grandmother on the borderline of 90. If COVID was a thing there and they caught it, one of them would almost certainly die.

We went into lockdown March 15th. We are yet to emerge into society again. I follow the COVID numbers on /r/Boston and I despair.

It didn't fucking have to be like this.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:04 AM on January 5, 2021 [16 favorites]


This essay did as she hoped and gave a shot in the arm (good, since I'm not getting the other kind for a while) to my resolve to stay safe.

It has been hard. My brother, sis-in-law, and nephew live nearby as does my other nephew. They are not Fux News addicts but they are much, much, more relaxed than I am about COVID precautions. So, they've been to Socal to visit family (this summer, not recently) and they've gone out to restaurants and other public places. They do wear masks, but not all the time.

So they had my nephew and his girlfriend and another friend of theirs over to the house for Christmas dinner (everyone had "been careful"--whatever that means).

And, my nephew who doesn't live at home apparently had friends over at some point was exposed by one of those friends. He just received a "negative" test result. But, but, but, who knows how careful he'll be going forward? These are pretty sensible folks, they don't deny COVID or the need for masks, but my sister-in-law gets antsy staying in and needs to interact with others so she goes out to get a massage, see her chiropractor, etc.

They have "indulged" my insistence on keeping distance, staying home, not attending any of their gatherings. But, it has been with a "Oh, there goes, Auntie Lissa with her anxiety and hypervigilance..." kind of attitude. It is so frustrating.

So it is nice to have a little validation from this professional.
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:05 AM on January 5, 2021 [23 favorites]


My parents aren't even Fox news watchers. They don't vote for Trump. They are smart. My dad was a chemical engineer. I grew up reading Scientific American and National Geographic when they arrived at our house every month. When the pandemic started, they stopped going to church and did all of the right things.

And then they went to a fucking indoor wedding. The week before Christmas, which they were planning to spend at my sister's house with the grandkids. They didn't tell any of us kids beforehand. I think they knew we wouldn't approve based on how we reacted to them talking about starting back up going to church and wanting to figure out a "safe" way to sing in the choir again. I'm nearly certain the only reason we found out about it - again including my sister who was hosting them for Christmas a week later - is my mom had a couple glasses of wine at the event and sent a pic of the two of them all dressed up to the family group chat the night of the wedding.

And the number of not-Trumpy, supposedly "liberal" coworkers and neighbors I see posting photos of their trips to Mexico and Peru and Jamaica right now...

Let's just say that as bad as it is for the Fox News crowd, that propaganda is not the only reason people aren't taking this seriously. I don't know what the answer is but whenever I start to think about it I get incandescent with rage. I can only think that part of it is for people who have gone this long without getting it, they start to trust their risk-assessment instincts. And start pushing the boundaries a bit. Well, if I got this far without catching it I must be doing the right things so as long as I keep doing those things (even if I'm doing them in more and more dangerous situations or when community infection rates are higher) I'll keep being okay.
posted by misskaz at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2021 [50 favorites]


I only wish the consequences for abject stupidity were self-limited. These homicidal morons need to be saved from themselves so they won't hurt other people with their own ignorance. Otherwise, "they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash."
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2021 [14 favorites]


I only wish the consequences for abject stupidity were self-limited. These homicidal morons need to be saved from themselves so they won't hurt other people with their own ignorance.

Exactly. Essential workers who are out there are bearing the brunt of this and they're largely the underclass who are largely minorities. Fucking selfish pricks.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:21 AM on January 5, 2021 [27 favorites]


Holy shit, that's good. Thank you, bitmage.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:22 AM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


Everyone I’ve met (online mostly, thank God) who is anti-mask (or anti-vax) views themselves as the hero of their own story. [...] They believe themselves to be Lone Mavericks of the Truth, serving the God of Personal Freedom, like health-points can be earned on a video game system, where functional lung tissue is is assured if you believe in both Jesus and that America is a meritocracy.

Fox is no doubt exacerbating this.


I agree, that Fox is probably exacerbating this, but unfortunately the actual facts of who gets covid and who goes to the hospital for it are too. CDC Covid stats If you think COVID is an equal opportunity killer (and hospitalizer) you are wrong. And this is just by race and when you throw in income classifications as well, it's even more dramatic who even gets sick and who dies in the US.

So these people all get to actually be heroes in the own story because they are not effected at the same rate and if by some small chance they do get COVID, they don't die. Getting back to this specific article, I have dealt with so many nurses and other medical professionals who believe the same exact thing, have vacationed and traveled, because COVID is not equally distributed, not at all.

You'd think the internet and seeing cases around the world would build empathy or a shared understanding of a deadly disease, but it's very easy to classify everyone who is sick and dying as 'over there' and do the bare minimum and less.

Honestly I hope that Biden's health team correctly analyzes this and moves to equalize systematic access to health care, and focuses less on draconian measures specific to COVID, because those are not going to be popular nor particularly helpful.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:28 AM on January 5, 2021 [13 favorites]


Repetitive ongoing acts of heroism.

That's it. But the problem is in going against your social nature, the evidence of your own eyes that tells you the invisible thing doesn't exist, the feeling in your lungs that you're just fine today, the instinctive fuck you to people telling you what to wear.

I don't think it's just US government propaganda on Fox: there's an intrinsically wicked thing about this disease, particularly since there are no buboes, no pock marks. No way to pick the Covid-19 patient out of a sea of other pictures of people dying in hospital on ventilators. It's terrifying in a kind of abstract, non-telegenic way, and that helps it spread.

Believing the science, seeing the snow and still knowing that the world's temperature has risen, and taking fewer flights. Believing the science, seeing living people partying in Moscow and Florida and still knowing that there's a pile of unseen corpses behind that story, and keeping the mask on. There's a commonality there.

Repetitive ongoing acts of heroism.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 9:01 AM on January 5, 2021 [20 favorites]


Repetitive, ongoing acts of invisible heroism. That's my take-away. Well said, Wrinkled Stumpskin.
posted by gwydapllew at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2021 [13 favorites]


This is us again. But our situation is so distressingly reversed.

My husband has been Covid nursing for 7 out of the last 9 months. We have been distancing as much as possible. And we are hardcore about good masking (properly fitted and taped even!)

My foxbot 70 year old parents have been out dining and shopping at the mall this whole time (with masks as required by county law but poorly worn). They've been to Vegas twice and multiple other road trips. My sisters have been living their lives mostly normal (seeing friends, eating out) including my Nurse sister. The one who refuses to work with Covid patients as she considers herself high risk because she has the same autoimmune disease as me (Ankylosing Spondylitis.) She flew to Idaho in December to meet her Covid denier boyfriend's family.

Christmas Eve is a big thing for them and they invite us to their home for a backyard, fully masked short visit. I didn't really want to go at all, but figured I should reward their attempt at safety - and that it was fairly low risk as long as we were careful.

It turns out what they meant was that they would put a table and heater outside for my family to hang out at while the 12 other members of the family (spread across 4 seperate non distancing households) spent the majority of the time inside, without masks like everything was normal, ignoring us. My kids were distraught at the dangerous risk they felt the rest of them were taking and felt completely abandoned and left out of the family. My 8 year old actually stood crying at the window watching her cousins, and my Mom was like "can't you guys just come in for a bit?"

We held our ground, stayed outside with our masks on and for obvious reasons left much sooner than we had planned.

Fast forward to Dec 29th when my husband realized he couldn't smell his wine. And then the kids and I realized that none of us could smell either. The next day my husband got a rapid test (he could get one because of work) and we got PCR tests. His came back positive right away, ours a few days later. We all have Covid.

He had his first vaccine dose on the 22nd - but it takes weeks and a second dose to build immunity - so it didn't come soon enough for us. So far we are mildly sick (for Covid - we are all quite miserable but have no fever or breathing troubles) I'm kinda hoping the vaccine jumpstarted his antibody production and he passed a low viral load to us. But who knows.

No one else in my extended family has Covid. My sister got a rapid at her hospital. The others got tested just in case. Based on timing of likely exposure It's likely that we were exposed before Christmas Eve and that our masks and being outside protected them from us.

Is this causing a change of heart for them about masking and distancing? Nope. They say that because our masking and distancing didn't keep us Covid free, that obviously those measures don't work. They feel vindicated. And like….did I mention my husband has been working 52 hours a week in the COVID UNIT!?! He was one of 3 people on his floor that hadn't yet caught it. If you are exposed so repeatedly - something will likely slip through eventually.

I just can't handle them anymore.
posted by Lapin at 9:14 AM on January 5, 2021 [127 favorites]


That is a very moving read. And scary. The thing is (I believe) that in a situation like this, government is absolutely necessary. You cannot leave it up to individuals to handle a pandemic. You cannot leave it to heroes, wether they wear capes or slippers.
It is so easy to see when you look around the world. The places where they can handle this have good government. You might be surprised that this includes some developing countries that are not know for their style of government, but those countries often have a lot of experience with deadly infectious diseases, so while they may be weak in other aspects of government, they are ahead when it comes to pandemics.
Obviously, the politicization of this in some countries, as in the US, has made it even worse than it could have been. I have no idea how to end that. I understand the author's frustration and anger. It is so stupid!! And it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
Today, our restrictions were tightened. And at the press briefing, the PM said right out that the situation is going to get worse during the next couple of months. Even though the vaccine is rolling out very well here, it will take months for everyone to get it twice, it's a logistics thing. And since our neighbors are struggling with those logistics, we still won't be safe till they are (she didn't say that last bit, someone else did, after the press briefing). I think this is one of the difficult aspects (for politicians) of handling the situation. You can't spin yourself out of a crisis, you have to tell the truth, all the time, the best you know it.
posted by mumimor at 9:14 AM on January 5, 2021 [16 favorites]


I agree, that Fox is probably exacerbating this, but unfortunately the actual facts of who gets covid and who goes to the hospital for it are too. CDC Covid stats If you think COVID is an equal opportunity killer (and hospitalizer) you are wrong. And this is just by race and when you throw in income classifications as well, it's even more dramatic who even gets sick and who dies in the US.

I see a lot of online comments to the effect that "[very large percentage] of deaths are seniors in long-term care homes," so we should just accept this as an unfortunate reality and get back to normal.

That's weird, because I could have sworn a year ago I was being told All Lives Matter. I'm sure I read that somewhere.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 AM on January 5, 2021 [53 favorites]


Good lord, lapin. That is terrible. I'm sorry you are going through this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:22 AM on January 5, 2021 [9 favorites]


This thread is somewhat cathartic for me to read because I've been cycling through stages of denial, terror, and incandescent rage over the choices people are making that are helping to maintain and spread COVID since March. Huge yes to the people upthread who commented that it's not just the fox news zombies, either. I've had to take yet another break from Facebook after one too many photos of liberal, intelligent friends and peers taking vacations down to fucking Miami, visiting family across the country, etc. Every goddamned person who decides that their special special circumstances mean they deserve to ignore COVID precautions just lights my damned head on fire. And most of my own family lives in Florida, and while most of them are left-leaning and claim to believe Fauci knows what he's talking about, they CONTINUE to engage in behavior that they insist is "safe" yet feels screamingly reckless to me. One group might decide not to go to the big dipshit in-law holiday party, but still visits with said dipshit in-laws, indoors, unmasked, with their asthmatic daughter, within days (and then has my >70-year old mother to their house within a few days for a post-holidays get-together ... again, indoors and unmasked). Another person flies down from fucking Wisconsin to stay in Florida, and I'm assured everyone is being safe because this guy is "quarantining" ... maskless, indoors, WITH my over-seventy mother (did I mention she has lung issues?). The only way I can have phone calls with any of them anymore is by carefully avoiding asking ANYTHING about what they've been up to and it still comes out from time to time - one of the last times it happened, I had to hang up because I was having a full-on goddamned hyperventilating panic attack.

Just yesterday I was speaking to my mom and asking her for the nth time to PLEASE wear facemasks if she and others (others with a kid attending in-person school, others who go to the fucking gym, others who visit aforementioned dipshit in-laws) insist on getting together indoors. And our family history is such that when I was a kid and my alcoholic dad was still alive, my "role" was as the one constantly ringing the alarm bells, constantly in terror of the possibility that my dad was going to kill my mom, so now I'm feeling like I'm back in that role again and everyone is once again dismissing poor neurotic Chicken Little who's been too influenced by "scaremongering" news stories while everything is really just fine and in the meantime I'm here feeling like I'm watching them play goddamned Russian roulette every day and nobody will take me or this pandemic seriously and it's just ...

Well, it's fucking exhausting and triggering and awful. I fucking hate this role but don't know how to stop playing it. But somehow it's helpful to hear that it's not just me, and so while I'm sorry for all of us going through this, I'm grateful this post exists. And by god, following COVID precautions and asking others to do the same IS still important, even when it seems like nobody else acts like it is. Big hugs to anybody who's in the same boat and accepts internet hugs.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2021 [39 favorites]


And on non-preview, god, Lapin, I'm so sorry you and your family are going through that. Sending wishes for full and swift recovery for all of you. Your extended family is being terrible.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:27 AM on January 5, 2021 [6 favorites]


The stuff we have to do to help other people may be boring, but if you’re a lazy introvert, this is your moment. Staying home instead of making plans with people, going to the gym, or going to a party you’d rather not go to? All good. Even if you’re not going to do anything at home other than play video games or screw around online. You could even get out of obligatory family gatherings with this one. It’s nice to be able to save the world by doing what you want to do. My in-laws haven’t nagged us to get out more since last March! I had an excuse to avoid family gatherings and political discussions (which would have been particularly bad this year).
posted by Anne Neville at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2021 [14 favorites]


I hope for the best and a speedy recovery for you and your family, Lapin
posted by mumimor at 9:35 AM on January 5, 2021 [3 favorites]


"...the invisible thing doesn't exist, the feeling in your lungs that you're just fine today, the instinctive fuck you to people telling you what to wear.

I don't think it's just US government propaganda on Fox: there's an intrinsically wicked thing about this disease, particularly since there are no buboes, no pock marks. No way to pick the Covid-19 patient out of a sea of other pictures of people dying in hospital on ventilators. It's terrifying in a kind of abstract, non-telegenic way, and that helps it spread."

I think that's part of it but a small part. If you saw that footage coming out of Wuhan and Italy in the spring...? Naw: 350,000+ people dying from drowning in their own snot is plenty telegenic, we're just not seeing it. Effective PR costs a tiny fraction of the money that an actual public health system and functioning infrastructure would cost, so They have sensibly invested funds left over from buying up Manhattan luxury apartments no one will ever live in in PR. As a result, the propaganda is topnotch and ubiquitous. As a result, a very visible disease isn't getting seen. Even if this were a more pyrotechnic disease it would still be invisible. Were it ebola, we wouldn't be seeing people bleed out on TV. We're not now seeing corpses removed from houses or doctors melting down in helpless screaming sobs in overwhelmed hospitals. That doesn't mean it's not happening, that doesn't mean there is not a constant horrific sensory assault associated with this disease, it just means that we are being protected from COVID. Not from GETTING it or PASSING it or SUFFERING from it or DYING of it. Just protected from SEEING it. And that's on purpose, to keep "the economy" safe; i.e., to keep money flowing up and Manhattan and Dubai et al. growing taller.

Lapin, your poor poor baby child crying for her cousins in danger! I'm so sorry, but I hope you told her a million times that she saved her cousins because she did. All best wishes to your family for a complete recovery.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2021 [25 favorites]


I work in one of those 'non heroic' front line industries where an extra 600$ a week would double my income, my company is making record profits, and they not only are not giving us bonuses, the annual pay raise was nothing.

I now understand how inquisitions and pogroms can exist. I'm generally a notably calm woman, but any time I see someone maskless in public, (inevitably a white male), I want to purge their infection from the world with righteous fire.
posted by Jacen at 9:42 AM on January 5, 2021 [23 favorites]


Lapin, your poor poor baby child crying for her cousins in danger! I'm so sorry, but I hope you told her a million times that she saved her cousins because she did. All best wishes to your family for a complete recovery.

I have told her often and she herself feels quite vindicated (I likely won't tell her what her grandma and aunties think.)

After our positive test, I felt such an immense amount of guilt for doing the Christmas Eve visit at all. I should have followed my gut and stayed home completely like we did for Thanksgiving! However my mom actually bought my family a car for Christmas (which is a whole different story with all sorts of messed up and complicated family dynamics) and I felt quite obligated to make an effort to show appreciation.

When I called to let them know about the Covid I was so apologetic for visiting when I knew the precautions might not be enough. And they just laughed at the fact that our precautions didn't protect us.
posted by Lapin at 10:01 AM on January 5, 2021 [23 favorites]


Reading this essay brought this MASH exchange to mind:

Hawkeye: War isn't Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them - little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
posted by snerson at 10:03 AM on January 5, 2021 [60 favorites]


I want to know what makes people resistant. My parents are prime targets for this stuff, but Fox repulses them and they stay home because the understand science and want to live. I don't think they are *so* different, but obviously they are somehow. How can we spread that?
posted by dame at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2021 [6 favorites]


if you’re a lazy introvert, this is your moment

I have not found this to be so.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2021 [18 favorites]




I don’t know how to look at unmasked faces and pictures of Christmas parties and not think, “You won’t inconvenience yourself even minimally to reduce the risk you present to my life, but if you get sick and need to be hospitalized you will have no qualms about demanding that I risk my life to save yours.”

It is SO HARD not to take this kind of selfishness personally. Being a nurse is not my job—it is who I am. It is every good part of me put together and named.

And when you ignore me and the other thousands of nurses pleading with you to stay home, you say not just that my professional competence is worthless but that I am worthless.

Cassie is right, you guys. We can’t bag you all.
posted by jesourie at 11:54 AM on January 5, 2021 [54 favorites]


And when you ignore me and the other thousands of nurses pleading with you to stay home, you say not just that my professional competence is worthless but that I am worthless.

jesourie, that is so relatable. I work in schools, and while what you're experiencing is light years beyond anything I have or will be exposed to, I 100% feel you on that sense that everyone is saying through their actions that we are worthless. Where I am, our governor abandoned the need for state metrics to re-open in-person school a few days before Xmas, and the people screeching the loudest about the need to force students and staff back into buildings RIGHT NOW are also mostly the ones who refuse to limit their gatherings, wear a facemask, etc. And any time I hear any discussion about whether or not it's safe to have in-person school, the discussion seems to revolve around whether or not students will catch it, with teachers and staff mysteriously never mentioned. Every time I hear mention of schools, I hear only about the shortcomings of distance learning and nothing about the heroic efforts my teachers are going through to meet our students' needs in these truly unprecedented times. I am so angry on behalf of my teachers and myself - we all care passionately for our students and are want the best for them AND ourselves - and yet seem to be regarded as disposable, our current efforts meaningless.

Again, I know it's nowhere near the same level as what you're experiencing, but I feel you. I see you, I know that nurses and other health professionals are going through hell right now while others blatantly refuse to do things to help keep you safe, and you all deserve so much better than that. I hope it helps to know that there are those of us who are listening to you and doing what health experts recommend to stop the spread.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2021 [14 favorites]


Re: preppers ... you know, people in a crisis don't automatically or even generally behave selfishly. The record is pretty clear: they tend to throw off their everyday self-absorption and do for others. A crisis is often unifying. A crisis that lasts months, that's taxing, sure. But it can still be a point of communal pride and unity to pull together through something challenging.

We've been pulled apart, deliberately and cynically. Then, aided by years of craftily disenfranchising non-white non-republicans and the racist institution of the electoral college, we got a president who spent years deepening these divisions while also doing his bumbling damnedest to dismantle the administrative state, i.e. the offices and folks who could help us survive a pandemic. Also, convincing half the country news is fake and science is lies, all to prevent us being able to connect.

We've had our natural inclination to help one another through a crisis amputated. Thanks a lot, Fox and Rush and ALEC and the Mercers, etc. I don't really know the end game. I mean, for some it's obviously bringing on a race war and the establishment of a white ethnostate, but for many of the people who hold power and have crafted this destruction it's just "with that out of the way I'll get richer" and that won't happen if we all die.

I didn't mean this to get so dark, I really just want to say "this is not inevitable, it was manufactured" and while I don't know how to fix it, it's not our nature to be this way. We can recover. Probably. Maybe.

Meanwhile, my warmest virtual and distant hug to Lapin and family, to all the folks who have lost family members to the dividers, and to those who face the consequences daily in hospitals trying to save lives.
posted by zenzenobia at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2021 [15 favorites]


Is this causing a change of heart for them about masking and distancing? Nope. They say that because our masking and distancing didn't keep us Covid free, that obviously those measures don't work. They feel vindicated.

I feel like I see this attitude in Every. Single. Comment. Section. (Not here). It's so disheartening.
posted by tiny frying pan at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2021 [7 favorites]


I only wish the consequences for abject stupidity were self-limited. These homicidal morons need to be saved from themselves so they won't hurt other people with their own ignorance. Otherwise, "they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash."

My best friend in the world works in a combined retirement/long term care home. They have been scrupulous about keeping everyone safe, and had zero cases in the first wave. It has been incredibly stressful for her: we talk by phone frequently but of course it’s been a year already done we saw each other.

As I say, no cases in-house at all in the spring and summer. A couple of months ago things went differently. They traced the outbreak back to a freedom-loving guy who humoured them, wore one of the silly little masks for his visit, and insisted that he had been screened and had not been in a position to acquire the disease, which everyone knows is just the flu anyway.

He came to visit his parents, both resident at the LTCH, and brought them a newspaper, which they passed on to their neighbour in the building. The neighbour sickened and died, then the guy’s mother did so as well. His father had to watch his wife of fifty-plus years slowly suffocate. Then the father died of it too.

The joker who brought it in? Still fine, still going to his freedom rallies as far as we know, and responsible for six deaths that we know of, with a few more in bad condition. Possibly he is typing something about the Great Reset in all-caps in a comments section right now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2021 [27 favorites]


Re: preppers ... you know, people in a crisis don't automatically or even generally behave selfishly. The record is pretty clear: they tend to throw off their everyday self-absorption and do for others. A crisis is often unifying. A crisis that lasts months, that's taxing, sure. But it can still be a point of communal pride and unity to pull together through something challenging.

This summer, my book club read Rebecca Solnit's book A Paradise Built In Hell, which was all about different instances of grass-roots community organizing and altruism that came up during various disasters. She covers various instances - 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, an explosion in Halifax, an earthquake in Mexico - and time and again there are instances of people rising to the occasion to save others from imminent disaster, feed and shelter people, provide medical care, and keep order. In each instance, these usually spring up during the initial chaos before the government can step in - and in most instances, the government stepping in is usually when things start to go to shit, because instead of working with these existing grass-roots systems, they chuck them and start over.

Solnit makes an argument - which not everyone in my book club bought - that part of why this happens is because the people in authority feel threatened by the peoples' own ability to police and help themselves. And that's when the narratives of anarchic looting and pillaging come out, and stories of opportunistic criminals taking advantage of the lack of a police or military authority to grab what they can. There are examples of this, but there are always far more examples of people pulling together to help each other.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:54 PM on January 5, 2021 [27 favorites]


Hey, DingoMutt. Florida closed schools... well, it was so far back and so much has happened since, I guess I don't remember. Anyway, DeSantis ordered them re-opened ages ago and he gagged the county health departments--who usually consult with schoolboards to advise on opening/closing schools. My boyfriend has been back in the classroom for months. In our town we've lost two schoolbus drivers so far and many dozens of kids and teachers have caught it. Nobody seems to want to think about the bus drivers. Caught in the closed buses for hours every weekday with a shifting population of kids from schools all over town. Two of them are dead and it has not made a difference. The argument, of course, is that they must have caught the virus at a party because of course they couldn't have caught the virus at work because--of course!--that would be impossible because the school boards all invested in truckloads of Lysol wipes and gave two to each busdriver along with a cloth mask.

In addition to opening bars, restaurants, gyms, salons, and schools and telling anyone who questions him to put on gloves and spray themselves with Lysol if they're worried, DeSantis thinks it's more important to vaccinate people older than 65 (like, for instance, people who retired to The Villages and are rich and likely to vote for him) than to vaccinate people forced to congregate (like people he won't let out of jail/prison and all the prison staff, like the students, teachers, and staff he's forced back into the schools, like the agricultural workers in unsafe too-close working conditions and crowded company housing he has done zero to protect: people he is actively endangering and who are therefore not as likely to vote for him, in other words, need to head to the back of the line).

"...the discussion seems to revolve around whether or not students will catch it, with teachers and staff mysteriously never mentioned." Nor are the students' parents and grandparents ever mentioned. Putting kids in a situation where they risk orphaning themselves is good for the kids?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:09 PM on January 5, 2021 [18 favorites]


Building on what zenzenobia and EmpressCallipygos said, my personal mental health actually improved a bit in March and April, when everybody else's was falling apart. I was following our local news, and there were all these stories about people manufacturing face shields for health care workers, and breweries were switching to production of hand sanitizer. Teachers put on car parades in little towns all around me, going to wave at all their students in lockdown. People organized to distribute lunches for students who were no longer in school but depended on school for meals. People were digging out their sewing machines to make cloth masks for health care workers who didn't have N95s. JoAnn Fabrics was giving away cloth for those people to make masks with. People did do the right things, they tried really hard, they banded together. And I was surprised! For just a little while, I thought okay, we'll get through this. Sure, Trump won in 2016, but: look at how good people are being. There is still decency here. People care about one another. We're going to be okay.

And then came the firearms in the Michigan Capitol building, and the haircut protests, and whatever Texas politician it was said hey, maybe some old people should just throw themselves on the fire to keep the economy going, etc. And everything started to harden along party lines, and it became obvious that no, people were still bad, there was in fact very little decency here, people cared almost not at all about one another, and many, many people were not going to be okay at all. And, mental-health-wise, I've been going back and forth ever since.

Mostly forth.

But what people did first was: they tried to help. They washed their hands. They stayed home. They fed the hungry. They wore masks. They made sacrifices. I don't know what happened, and I don't know what to do about it, but I think that impulse to help one another is still there, and could be revived.

(I kind of need to think that impulse is still there, at least. )
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2021 [31 favorites]


This summer, my book club read Rebecca Solnit's book A Paradise Built In Hell, which was all about different instances of grass-roots community organizing and altruism that came up during various disasters.

I have the Solnit book but I have never gotten a chance to read it. The first thing that came to mind reading EmpressC’s summary was the blackout in 2003. There were, in my part of the world, a few people who had to be rescued from elevators and the like, but no fatalities that I can recollect. I recall downtown Toronto had dozens of intersections where pedestrians stepped up as impromptu traffic cops, alternately halting and allowing through vehicular traffic — others were bringing wrapped sandwiches and bottles of water out to them.

Stores were giving away their ice cream to passersby rather than have it all melt uselessly. Not a few people that night surveyed their freezers and decided to invite the neighbours over for a spontaneous barbecue. (I myself, as I had mentioned on the blue before, had previously invited a couple of friends over for some gamage on the Xbox that evening. All but one cancelled, of course, and the one who came over lived two blocks away. He and I ended up playing chess by oil lamp light.)

I thought we should have an annual one-night blackout. Earth Hour is a pale imitation.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:12 PM on January 5, 2021 [10 favorites]


That’s all I can really ask for in the end. Small subtle changes. Repetitive ongoing acts of heroism. The strength to say, ‘I’m staying home, thanks’, or call out your crazy Uncle on Facebook — or maybe just block him for your sanity’s sake.

Just keep trying to go through life clean. Know that the decisions you make now may not seem big — but they are.


Even though this is something I've been on board with from the beginning, it helps to hear it again and again.

Thanks for posting this.

Speaking of Hawkeye, listening to Alan Alda interview Anthony Fauci (this came out today -- he's done a couple of interviews with him since the pandemic started) is a soothing dose of...sanity? Rationality tinged with kindness? Whatever it is, I found it worth hearing.

I recall downtown Toronto had dozens of intersections where pedestrians stepped up as impromptu traffic cops, alternately halting and allowing through vehicular traffic — others were bringing wrapped sandwiches and bottles of water out to them.

I hiked through a chunk of the middle of the city that night to get to Mr. Conspiracy's place as we were not cohabitants at that time, and I can verify this sort of thing was happening.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2021 [4 favorites]


I'm no lawyer, but the thing I don't understand is, why isn't there some sort of class action suit against Fox News? If I had close relatives who died of Covid and were Fox News fanatics, I'd join that suit in a heartbeat. I mean there's literally months of video evidence, just hour after hour of Fox's denial and endangerment, not to mention what you could find in discovery. I would think such a case would be open and shut. Fox was literally trying to kill its audience through ignorance, and seems to have succeeded in large part.
posted by fungible at 3:57 PM on January 5, 2021 [6 favorites]


He had his first vaccine dose on the 22nd - but it takes weeks and a second dose to build immunity - so it didn't come soon enough for us. So far we are mildly sick (for Covid - we are all quite miserable but have no fever or breathing troubles) I'm kinda hoping the vaccine jumpstarted his antibody production and he passed a low viral load to us. But who knows.

Get well, Lapin. This blows, on top of everything else you're dealing with, and I'm sorry you have to deal with everything else on top of...everything else.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:13 PM on January 5, 2021


an annual one-night blackout.

Great idea, r-biscuit. We could never get a majority to go along with it, but such a pleasant dream. Good for our systems, too, an annual reboot - makes more sense than switching the clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
posted by Rash at 4:14 PM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


why isn't there some sort of class action suit against Fox News?

A federal judge ruled that Fox News isn't required to be truthful or even try. They classify themselves as entertainment, much in the same way as the tabloids that have articles about alien autopsies.
posted by meowzilla at 4:24 PM on January 5, 2021 [8 favorites]


Fox was literally trying to kill its audience through ignorance, and seems to have succeeded in large part.

oh my god, not even remotely close. Even if every single person in the world who died of COVID was a Fox audience member they would still have significant viewership left. The low-income minorities who make up so many of the U.S.'s victims aren't generally Fox viewers, either.

Fox News is trying to kill the people its audience hates. And it's succeeding.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:06 PM on January 5, 2021 [7 favorites]


Oh Don Pepino, I'm so sorry you're living through the sheer grotesque bullshit that is Florida government. I'm sorry for your boyfriend and all the other staff who are being forced into immorally unsafe conditions and then provided no true support whatsoever. And far as bus drivers go, a cousin of mine who is a (city) bus driver up in PA just came down with COVID, and I'm honestly amazed it's taken this long and am just disgusted at how little regard is being given to people whose jobs put them into close contact with the public. I wish unions were stronger and that strikes were happening - and that families and educational staff alike could unite behind the common goal of doing what's best for students (which as you pointed out means NOT orphaning students, right along with with not killing off their teachers, bus drivers, and other staff).

From what I hear from my Villages-dwelling family members, de Santis is even fucking up with them and it's been "first-come, first-served" for the vaccine, which is just blowing my damn mind. Even if he is (apparently?) leaving it up to individual counties to figure out distribution procedures, I would have hoped that there were people in those counties with enough integrity to prioritize front-line and "essential" workers, along with others working and living under high-risk conditions, but clearly that's not the case.

Wishing health and safety to you and your boyfriend. DeSantis is hard enough to stomach from across the country.
posted by DingoMutt at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


A federal judge ruled that Fox News isn't required to be truthful or even try.

Okay, but wouldn't it still be provable that they were doing harm, manslaughter, or some other fancy legal term? I mean Bat Boy and Alien Autopsies aren't deadly, and Obama Is A Kenyan Muslim could get past libel laws, but this actually endangered and killed large numbers of people, and I'd wager it was decided and pursued on purpose. Again, obviously not a lawyer, just trying to understand.
posted by fungible at 5:49 PM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


A federal judge ruled that Fox News isn't required to be truthful or even try.

I don't think the ruling applied to Fox News in its entirety, but concerned its co-defendant & employee, Tucker Carlson, and the program he hosts, Tucker Carlson Tonight (where Carlson allegedly defamed the plaintiff)? See Reasonable Viewers Don’t Look to Tucker Carlson for Facts, Fox Asserts (courthousenews.com), or Fox News Argues Viewers Don't Assume Tucker Carlson Reports Facts (Hollywood Reporter): "What we're talking about here, it’s not the front page of The New York Times. It’s 'Tucker Carlson Tonight,' which is a commentary show,” a lawyer for Fox News argued while defending a lawsuit from Karen McDougal.

Here in Southern California, everyone I know seems to have skipped over the 'don't mix households' stipulation of our stay-at-home order (recently renewed 'for the foreseeable future') and aren't happy I pointed it out (when I had to justify my resistance to multiple people wanting to 'just drop by' for greetings & gift exchanges during the holidays). (For all the good it did; I don't live alone, and my roommate's friends and co-workers stopped by anyway.) Now San Diego County has had 45+ community outbreaks in the last week, ambulance crews in LA County were told not to take patients with little chance of survival to hospitals, and there's oxygen rationing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2021 [4 favorites]


The problem is framing. For a good portion of the population, the response to a crisis is to be brave. To cover your face and hide in your home is to show fear. To join your family at Christmas, to go to the gym, to sing at church in spite of the fear your enemies are trying to fill you with — that's "brave."

I and everyone in this thread would rather respond to a crisis by being responsible — by looking out for other people.

You can try to reframe staying in and taking precautions as being brave. if you figure out how to do that successfully, let me know. I think it would have as much success as some rogue commenter in this thread trying to frame going out mask-free as being responsible.

Also, there are a lot of not-very-bright people out there, and the germ theory of disease is still something a lot of people don't quite understand (which is why "toxins" have the sway they do).
posted by argybarg at 6:27 PM on January 5, 2021 [8 favorites]


I really feel for the healthcare workers, teachers, bus drivers and the innocent bystanders who get infected by anti-mask assholes. But the Fox news watchers and comfortable people who act like there is no pandemic going on? If they get covid-19 I will shed no tears.

I sometimes wonder if covid-19 is like some malevolent deity giving us a Pandemic Training Level where you get to learn the rules of the game with low risk. In a few years, if a new covid strain with a CFR of 55% in age 60+ but high transmissibility arises, most of the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers will get washed away by nature. Novel human coronaviruses have been jumping species at the rate of 1 per decade since SARS-CoV-1 (N=3) so who knows what will happen.
posted by benzenedream at 6:28 PM on January 5, 2021 [4 favorites]


There was a meme going around on twitter a while back that I thought sort of was illustrative. I won't be able to find it right now in person, but the words on it were basically "Fox News has done everything to our parents that they were worried video games would do to us".
posted by hippybear at 9:40 PM on January 5, 2021 [15 favorites]


Now San Diego County has had 45+ community outbreaks in the last week, ambulance crews in LA County were told not to take patients with little chance of survival to hospitals, and there's oxygen rationing.

It's truly pandemic disaster movie panic situation levels of awful from what I've heard and read. A foreshadowing of what is going to happen across the country in the next month.
posted by hippybear at 10:23 PM on January 5, 2021 [2 favorites]


I don't think the ruling applied to Fox News in its entirety

But why can't it be? What makes one show a "news" segment and another simply "commentary"?

You know how real news organizations have sections explicitly labeled "Opinion"? I don't think that's a legal obligation. I'd guess that it's because real news orgs want to maintain their trustworthy reputation even if opinions are controversial. But when your audience only trusts you because of your opinion section, there's no point trying to separate the two.

Fox News doesn't have a "news" license that the government can take away. They are a cable channel that doesn't use public airwaves. Sadly they are also the biggest news channel by viewership, so we're not able to ignore them like we would other extreme news organizations.
posted by meowzilla at 11:18 PM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]


This was so painful to read, both the horrors of being a medical worker now, and the horrors of Trumpers in close family. My husband and I, both in our 70s, are both very fortunate to have no known right-wing nutters in either extended family, from his 96 year old aunt to various cousins and our children and their children. I assume the grandbabies have no political opinions yet!

I know this is unusual among boomer-aged and older people, very sad to say. But then our now-deceased parents were working-class Democrats, first generation children of immigrants, who went through the Depression and never considered "Socialist" a dirty word. We have stayed true to their legacy and passed it on. We are horrified at Trump and his minions, and keep contributing to progressive candidate.

It has made life easier for us than for many in our age group and younger not to have deal with Fox-News loving relatives along with the pandemic. I do have a close friend I am suspicious may lean Republican, but she knows better than to preach to us. I am about out of patience, and have sympathy for anyone whose family members have fallen for Trump's lies.
posted by mermayd at 9:31 AM on January 6, 2021 [3 favorites]


I'm just so worried that people are going to get the vaccine and think that they are immediately immune. It takes time for the vaccine to work, and the full effects won't be there until they get the second dose. I am bracing for the news stories where people get the first vaccine dose, go to a huge indoor wedding on the next day, and then get the coronavirus. I foresee a great outcry that because of this, that the vaccine is just a lie put forth by the government. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but it worries me a lot.
posted by Quonab at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2021 [1 favorite]


I'm just so worried that people are going to get the vaccine and think that they are immediately immune.

I've been reading people who reckon they are fearless truthtellers revealing to the sheeple that "the vaccine doesn't even cure the virus."

I mean, it's hard to know here to start here.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:00 PM on January 6, 2021 [1 favorite]


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