Living, and Shaming, During the Pandemic

The other day, I fought with a friend. Well, it wasn’t so much of a fight as it was an argument, and even then one could interpret it as more of an “ethical discussion.” It, like most things, began with a girl.

A mutual friend of ours had been messaging a girl she met on Hinge and offhandedly mentioned grabbing a drink at an outdoor patio bar. I thought it was super cool; my other friend did not. In New York, the average of COVID-19 cases that have been reported this past week has increased by 7 percent compared to the average from two weeks ago, according to The New York Times. And this trend will continue, that is a given. For this reason, my friend implied, no one should be meeting up with people they don’t know…until 2022 (but this last part was most likely an exaggeration).

But here’s the catch: This friend had actually gone against her own advice earlier in the pandemic to meet with someone she met on a dating app, whom she is currently dating. They both work away from home but get tested regularly so they can see each other at their apartments. It’s all very responsible, but still begs the question: why do we trust ourselves but not others?

Some people have sworn off indoor eating but are happy to sit outside to patronize restaurants; others exclusively get take out. Some enjoy their daily run, wearing a mask if they’re passing through a busy area and taking it off when they’re alone, while others can weather a little cabin fever and choose to workout inside.

Yes, there are people who knowingly go against pandemic restrictions and advice for a multitude of reasons, from not believing in the pandemic to wanting to stick it to the government for taking away their freedoms. I don’t believe these people represent a majority of Americans because I think most of us are trying to do our best to weigh our needs and desires against honoring public health guidelines.

Ideally, we would all stay inside our homes as much as possible, interacting with no one except to get necessities so that we could kick the virus. Actually, in an ideal world, our government would provide the necessary funds and resources to ensure Americans across the country are as safe as possible. But at least something is coming our way.

But because this is not an ideal world, and because people are not the same in their needs and desires, shaming shouldn’t be part of the equation. For one, critiquing others’ choices during the pandemic as a way to explain rising cases is a misdirection of blame, particularly when state and local guidelines vary widely across the country. Also, who am I to judge others when I want them to not judge me? They don’t live inside my head and can’t witness the extreme exhaustion I experience to analyze the pros and cons of visiting my friends or taking my dogs to the local park.

Our choices are logical to us but questionable to others. We should all be doing what we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and limit the victims of this pandemic, but risk is part of everything we do when we step outside of the house. Truly, all we can do, and expect each other to do, is be responsible with our decisions and reach out to our representatives to provide adequate resources for Americans to make it out of this pandemic.

Jaxx Artz is a writer, sales associate, cook, tutor, and, most recently, graduate. She can be found somewhere in the vast expanse between Texas and New York.