complaints, mental health, rants

Certain people remind me why I prefer hanging out with dogs…

Fair warning… this post is kind of cranky and negative. You may not want to read it, but I really felt like writing it.

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine shared a stale Facebook post about the importance of getting COVID vaccines, even if we don’t know what’s in them. The post also reminded everyone that we don’t know what’s in a lot of things we consume. My friend added the comment that people who refuse to be vaccinated should not be shown compassion or mercy when they eventually get sick with COVID-19.

That post, along with an accompanying judgmental, frustrated, angry attitude, was one I have seen many times since the vaccines first became available. I couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of irritation as I prepared to scroll past it. I mean, it’s been two years. Most people have made up their minds and don’t necessary want or need a stale PSA/meme/recycled social media post to change their views.

But then I noticed that one of my friend’s friends had written a rebuttal– not against the wisdom of getting inoculated, but against the attitude that people who don’t get vaccinated are undeserving of medical care. I liked what the man said– that there is no “sin” in not getting vaccinated, especially since the initial promises regarding vaccination turned out to be somewhat invalid.

Let me make it abundantly clear that I do believe the vaccinations are good, and I certainly recommend that people get the shots. I have been fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, and I spend most of my time alone in my house. I take my dogs for walks, but other than that, I don’t go around other people. When I do go around others, I wear a mask as required. And it’s not even so much COVID-19 that has forced me into this isolated lifestyle. I kind of fell into it years ago, when I found myself outside of the work world.

I used to enjoy going out on the weekends, visiting tourist sites, and eating in restaurants. But now, thanks to the miserable and ever changing COVID-19 rules in Europe, even that’s unappealing to me. It’s too confusing, inconvenient, and potentially embarrassing to go out into the world. So I stay home and read hyperbolic comments from high and mighty people in the United States, bitching about how uncaring other people are, and how if they get sick and aren’t vaccinated, they totally deserve to suffer.

My friend had posted about how irresponsible and uncaring unvaccinated people were running around “murdering” people by being infectious. From the very beginning, I have cringed when I’ve read or heard someone accuse someone with COVID of “murder”. Folks, at best, someone who spreads COVID-19 might be guilty of negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter. And even that is a stretch, given that people pick up germs all the time, in all sorts of situations, and there are many variables that influence how well their bodies will cope with, and hopefully recover from, any of the germs they pick up.

Murder generally requires premeditation and malice, and using the extreme and alarmist term “murder” is, in my view, an unnecessary overstatement– especially since most people who get COVID do eventually recover, at least to some extent. This situation sucks plenty already, and it’s already caused incredible hardship and grief. We don’t need to make it worse by calling people who spread COVID “murderers”, when they would never fit the definition of “murderer” in a court of law– at least not in the United States.

My friend also wrote that people who are unvaccinated should not have access to medical care. And again, as I have repeatedly stated, I highly disagree with that view– especially from someone who professes to be a devout Christian, as my friend does. I am not particularly religious myself, but I did go to church for many years. And I was taught that Jesus Christ had compassion and mercy, especially for the sick. Jesus would not deny medical care to someone who needs it, even if that person could have avoided severe illness by getting vaccinated and taking precautions.

Moreover, even if the unvaccinated person has wantonly avoided vaccination and adopted an uncaring, callous attitude, chances are good that the person will still be missed by someone. Chances are also good that someone relied on that person and now no longer has them. That person in need could be a child, or an elderly person, or someone with special needs. Now, their life is going to be upended because someone they needed got sick and died unexpectedly… and people are mocking them, to boot! These people who call for us to have compassion and consideration for others are actually laughing at people who have died of COVID. Of course, dead people aren’t the ones who hear the laughter; it’s their grieving friends and loved ones who are left to deal with that.

Ah– but you might say, if that was the case, then the person should have made it a priority to get vaccinated. To that, I might agree– except we never know why a person has avoided getting the shots. It could be because they simply don’t care, or it could be because he or she has to work, and can’t afford to take time off to recover from potential side effects of the vaccine. Or maybe that person lives in an area that isn’t near a place where he or she can get the shots. There are a lot of “food deserts” in the United States. I would imagine that the food deserts are also pharmaceutical deserts. In any case, I don’t think it’s helpful to laugh about someone’s death. It happens to all of us at some point.

So, I found myself responding with most of the above points to my friend, even though I hesitated at first. I added that here in Europe, lawmakers have tackled the problem of unvaccinated people by trying to make life harder for them. In some areas, for instance, unvaccinated people are being fined, and some are losing their jobs over lack of vaccination. Here in Germany, an unvaccinated person often can’t go into a restaurant or a non-essential retail outlet. They can’t go to theaters or sports arenas. Even those who have been twice vaccinated have to show a negative test result or proof that they’ve been boosted. And guess what! The virus is STILL spreading!

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be taking precautions. It just means that all of the preaching and yammering about masks and vaccines, as if they are going to save humanity, is not necessarily based in truth. Vaccines make severe sicknesses and deaths from COVID less likely, but they don’t entirely stop sicknesses and deaths from happening. So shaming people for not doing exactly what they’re told is kind of pointless, since even if they do what they’re supposed to do, they still might get sick. And no doubt about it, every person WILL someday die of something.

Last night, Bill took Noyzi to the vet to get routine doggy vaccines. Before he could get services, he had to show the receptionist his ID, plus his “COVPass”, which is an app on his phone that provides proof that he’s had his three shots. And then, he STILL had to wait outside. Then he was ushered into the treatment room where our sweet Zane was euthanized in 2019, before all of this stupid shit started.

So what prompted this post? Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen several other “tut tut” posts from supposed friends about the importance of masking and vaccines. And folks, I’ll be honest… I am so sick of seeing them. It’s been two years. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, I doubt they ever will. These kinds of PSAs tend to elicit positive responses from those who have already jumped on the bandwagon, and derisive, snarky responses from those who think masking is a waste of time. And then there are people like me, who just want to get on with life and be done with this shit, for better or worse.

Are people really going to put on a mask because they saw this? I also hate the cutesy little slogans, like “mask up”. I feel like telling a person who says this to “fuck off.” I know that’s not nice, but it’s my honest reaction.

Also… as someone who never saw Star Wars, this reference is lost on me, anyway. Bill is a Star Wars fan, so he clued me in. I know people are going to share this shit anyway, so writing this post is really my only action against this practice. I’m also a firm believer that people should share what they want to on their social media accounts. Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t vexed by the constant preaching and lecturing.

Not surprisingly, this one comes from the Cook County Department of Public Health.

While I agree that it is responsible to wear a mask when you’re in a crowd of people, I find these kinds of shaming posts irritating and offensive. Because again– those who don’t believe in masking are not going to be swayed by something like this, and those who are onboard with the program will be cheerleading, and people like me, who believe in science, but are fucking sick of reading and hearing about COVID, are just going to be aggravated by it. When I see these posts, I’m just reminded of how much this sucks. Ditto to those who argue with strangers online, and implore them with comments like “Please educate yourself.” as if they are the authority on all things.

I do hope that COVID-19 will present us with a “silver lining” of sorts. Like, for instance, I think our healthcare system needs a massive overhaul, particularly in terms of the financial aspects of it. Obviously, we all need access to affordable healthcare. In the case of a contagious disease like COVID-19, it’s absolutely crucial and essential that people be able to access competent healthcare, even if some people think the unvaccinated shouldn’t get treatment or comfort measures. That person who stubbornly refused to be vaccinated can still spread the virus, you know, even as they writhe in the death throes that some think they richly deserve. It’s in our best interest to take care of the sick people, even if they chose not to be vaccinated or, in some cases, simply were unable to access the shots. You probably won’t know which case they fall under, and honestly, who’s got time to ask?

Maybe this situation will help us prepare for the next pandemic, and you know there will be one. Hopefully, by the time it hits, I’ll already be dead. But maybe some people will learn from this… maybe. Or maybe some really smart person will come up with ways to make mitigating this virus easier and more effective, so life won’t be so shitty anymore. One can always hope. But for now, I’m probably going to continue to be really crabby. At least I still have my dogs.


HYPER hyperbole… about last night…

Last night, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t like “call out culture”. I’m not a fan of publicly shaming people, even when it seems like they did something egregiously wrong. On my old blog, I frequently posted about how much I despise the “let’s make this bitch go viral” posts.

The main reason why I don’t like those kinds of posts is because sometimes, people get their facts wrong or simply don’t have all the facts. I suspect a lot of people also make erroneous assumptions about people or try to “mind read”. But I also think it’s wrong because the bad behavior that gets caught on camera or social media or anywhere else is always just a fraction of a person’s life. And yet, when people go into public shaming mode, reputations and lives can be ruined. Your moment of outrage about someone else’s decision to go against the grain, and the subsequent decision to spread it on social media, can be personally devastating to another person.

I don’t believe there are very many truly evil, horrible people in the world. I believe they do exist, but I think most people are trying to do their best with what they can. Moreover, I also believe most people are competent and know what works best for them. Most people are capable of reading, and they have normal cognitive ability which makes them able to make their own choices. Personally, I resent people telling me what to do, especially when I know they aren’t any more informed than I am, and a lot of them are mostly getting their information from memes. I gather they wouldn’t like for me to lecture them about what they should or shouldn’t be doing, either.

After hours of seeing post after post about the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple pleas, expressions of disgust and outrage, accusations of selfishness, name calling, and outright bullying, I decided to post that I’m tired of the pandemic shaming. Not surprisingly, the post caught on fire. I got some defensive comments from people who wrote that they felt they had to “speak up” to their friends about the importance of wearing masks. I totally understand that rationale. I understand that people are scared and they think the masks are “common sense”.

I also understand being angry and frustrated by protesters who show up at their state capitals with guns and completely ignore social distancing and face mask guidelines. However… the people who are doing that are almost assuredly not going to be swayed by your indignant posts about how “stupid”, “ignorant”, and “moronic” they are, and the rest of us are going to eventually get fatigued by all the negativity and sanctimony. Besides, so many people are sharing that shit that it becomes overwhelming, particularly for those who have depression and anxiety when things are “normal”. I simply wanted to express another view, and remind people that while they certainly have the right to post whatever they want, they may not realize that those kinds of posts can be damaging in ways they hadn’t considered.

That was where I was last night. I actually cried yesterday. It’s been awhile since I last cried, because for some reason, I’m no longer able to do it with ease. When I was younger, I could cry on demand. That’s not so anymore, and as embarrassing as it was when I used to have regular meltdowns, I now miss having the ability to cry. It’s a good stress reliever and helps dissipate pent up negative energy and anger.

The constant barrage of shit on the Internet has become unbearable, and it makes me think the future is just going to suck. I start thinking that the people who have passed away are the lucky ones. I miss the days when we were totally unplugged, and could lick our wounds in private. Of course, it’s still possible to do that, but it’s not as easy as it was twenty or thirty years ago. Crying yesterday did help a little bit with the mounting stress and dread I’ve been feeling. There have been days when I’ve wondered if it’s worthwhile staying alive. Poor Bill doesn’t know what to say or do when I get like that. I have to tell him, which is upsetting for both of us.

THAT kind of thinking is disturbing and unhealthy. It’s not the kind of thing I can admit to out loud, either, because if I’m honest about how I feel, someone might panic and send the authorities to my house. I am not feeling suicidal. I am feeling like I wouldn’t be too upset if I just died and skipped the rest of this miserable existence. That’s what depression does to me. It’s not rational, nor is it something I’m proud of. But that’s how I feel.

I have also stated that I am not convinced the masks are that helpful. That does not mean that I won’t wear them when they are required. It does not mean that I discourage other people from wearing them. It does not even mean that I don’t see how they could be useful in certain situations, including living in high population density areas like New York City or Beijing, or any other Asian city where the masks have become part of the culture. It also doesn’t mean that I am UNINFORMED or willfully ignorant. I probably have had more education, experience, and training regarding disease transmission than a lot of people have. That’s what happens when you study public health in graduate school and work for the bureau of epidemiology; but you don’t need an MPH to come to the conclusions that I have about the utility of face masks.

I simply feel that the masks are more useful in placating the worried well, and making people feel better, and more empowered, than offering real protection from the virus. There is certainly value in that. And yes, maybe they stop balls of snot and saliva from escaping your mouth and nose and fouling the air. But they don’t stop vapors, aerosols, or people who continually touch their faces, reuse their masks, wear them improperly, and neglect to wash their hands. I have been staying HOME, which is probably better than wearing a mask. A lot of the people doing the shaming can’t even be bothered to read articles before they post reactions and comments to headlines. I’m supposed to take advice and lecturing from THEM?

Moreover, for some people, the masks are truly an imposition. In fact, in one of the German groups I’m in, a doctor posted this (in German):

Hello everyone,
I would like to address one thing that is very close to my heart:
I see people in my practice every day who are unable to wear mouth-nose protection due to their illness, e.g. patients with respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD or pulmonary fibrosis. Patients with anxiety and panic attacks or muscle dystrophies cannot tolerate a breathing mask. Some patients are also physically unable to push a shopping cart for different reasons.
If you see these people shopping without protection or without a car, ask them politely why. Sometimes you still don’t get a corresponding answer, because these people are often embarrassed to give the reasons.
But this is no reason to denounce, scolding, or even physically attack these people. They are mostly very unsettled and anxious, they traumatized a humiliation.
Just stay calm and let them shop alone. One or the other without a mask will not change the overall result of the measure.
We citizens should not mutate into the police by ourselves either.

Thank you very much!!!

He makes a good point. It’s like what I started this post with, my comments about public shaming, attacking, insulting, and calling people out, especially when you don’t have all the facts, nor are they necessarily any of your business.

I know some people feel panicky and claustrophobic when they wear a face mask. I’ve seen some people say that those people ought to “suck it up” and get over it for the ten minutes they’re in a store. Maybe a lot of them can and should do that. And I’ve also seen people say that people who are unable to wear masks should have someone who can do their shopping. Maybe they should… Or maybe they don’t have anyone who can help them. Maybe they’re alone in the world. Perhaps they shouldn’t be expected to explain that to everyone who feels it’s their duty to confront them.

Last night, there was some drama on my Facebook page because I posted that I’m tired of pandemic shaming and lecturing… and it got kind of heated. After a few hours, the thread started to die down a bit. I was feeling somewhat better and about to go to bed. Suddenly, someone decided it was time to ignite things with a very strange, attention whorish comment that, to me, had zero to do with what we were discussing. She also granted me the “right” to unfollow her, as she insisted that for her, this had become “personal”. I don’t know what that comment was about. As if depression and anxiety aren’t personal for me.

I was going to let it slide, but then she jumped to another post about an unmasked woman who was arrested in Wal-Mart. The woman wasn’t arrested just because she lacked a face covering. She was arrested because she was being disorderly. There was a video that came with the article, which showed the officer throwing the woman to the ground to put handcuffs on her as her friend was screaming at people to record the incident. Those in attendance gasped audibly and in unison, which means they were shocked by the scene. For the record, I never posted anything about the woman’s “right” to go maskless. My first comment was, “Well, this sucks.” And it does suck on many levels. I don’t condone the way she was behaving, and I initially said nothing about her being maskless. I was, frankly, disturbed by the story and the video, and that was why I shared it. My mistake.

A friend of mine posted an angry, shaming rant about the scene. I thought his comments were over-the-top. So I posted, “She wasn’t arrested just because she wasn’t wearing a mask. She was also being disorderly. I would be very upset if this was how people who simply don’t wear a mask started being treated. That would be overkill, in my opinion.

The person who posted about how COVID-19 had become “personal” for her, then wrote, ”Simply Don’t Wear a Mask” wow. Bit stunned. These days, ‘simply not wearing a mask’ is an act of attempted murder.

Since it was her second outraged post on my page in less than five minutes, and she doesn’t, in fact, regularly comment on my stuff, I was pretty annoyed by what appeared to be blatant shit stirring. But she seemed a bit spun up by the business on my page, so I posted “If you are that triggered by my posts, I suggest you find somewhere else to hang out.” A comment comparing a lack of a face mask to “attempted murder” is a ridiculous, hyperbolic, shaming statement, and I found it very disrespectful, especially since she’d clearly been following my post about how sick I am of that kind of behavior.

Then, on second thought, I decided to unfriend her. Unfortunately, the guy who posted the initial shaming rant– who also seemed to be comparing me to a “protester”– then agreed with her that not wearing a mask is akin to “attempted murder”. I would suggest to both of these folks that they look up the legal definition of “attempted murder”.

According to US Legal, “in order for a person to be guilty of attempted murder, that person should have deliberately, intentionally or recklessly with extreme disregard for human life, attempted to kill someone. There should be some substantial step towards committing the crime.

At this point in time, not wearing a face mask is certainly not akin to attempted murder. The vast majority of people who are out in public are not COVID exposed, and most people who do get sick aren’t going to die. For instance, in Germany, there have been 171,000 confirmed cases. Of those, 138,000 people have recovered. So far, 7,589 people have died. Yes, it’s tragic that they died, but as you can plainly see, most people who have been infected have NOT died.

I got these results from good old Google.

Now, in the United States, things are different. This is what Google says about the USA.

But the United States is not like Germany in many important ways. Whether or not someone recovers has a lot to do with many different factors. Access to health care when it’s needed, overall health, age, sex, and luck have a lot to do with the overall results.

Not wearing a face mask isn’t like deliberately trying to run someone down with a car, throwing them off a ship into waters filled with sharks, or deliberately poisoning their food with arsenic. Maybe if COVID got really deadly for everyone who gets it, not wearing a mask would be more like manslaughter. If COVID-19 were a definite death sentence, I might even be onboard with a manslaughter conviction. But at this point, it’s not a certain death sentence, and those kinds of extreme, “over-the-top” comments are not helpful, nor are they appreciated, especially when I specifically explained that the shaming comments are upsetting to me. I get that people are going to post what they want to on their own pages, but when I expressly explain that I find that shit upsetting, it’s very disrespectful to continue doing it anyway on MY page.

So… to those who are reading this because they want to know WTF, here’s the deal. I have decided that I’ve had enough bullshit from people. For my own good, I have to take better control, not just avoiding COVID exposure by staying home, but also by avoiding people who deliberately try to upset me and stir up drama with COVID hysteria online. This is a tough situation for everybody, and people have the right to their opinions and views. People also have the right to avoid the negative shit. That’s why I’ve started filtering more and will probably get rid of the worst offenders. It doesn’t mean I’m in an echo chamber or denying facts. I’m quite well informed, thank you, and I know where to find advice by people who haven’t been educated solely by the media, Facebook, or memes. And if you’re a real friend, you’ll understand and respect that.