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.