Covid; A First World Problem?

I’m a hyperbolic person. It’s partially because I’m soft spoken, shy, and introspective. For me to say anything I have to go to the extreme. I use analogy, metaphors, and sarcasm to better convey myself. I understand people saying things they don’t mean, simply to give a feeling of what it's like.

The Pandemic has been likened to many things; the Blitz, nuclear fallout, house arrest. I can understand these claims because they’re prefaced with “like”. This is LIKE the Blitz. This is LIKE a movie. But it’s the people who aren’t saying “like” who are unnerving me.

This IS 1984! This IS about control! This IS Communism! This IS the Holocaust!

When pressed, many will feebly back down and say they’re just finding it hard. But just as many will regurgitate some dribble they’ve gotten from Facebook, holding up their glaring phone like it’s the word of God.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll see where and from whom these assertions are really coming from.

It’s been known for some time that while Covid doesn’t discriminate, it will disproportionately affect developing countries and poorer families more. We’ve seen this with surging deaths in India and the campaigns imploring minority communities to get vaccinated. Yet the majority of discourse and displeasure about Covid hasn’t come from the less advantaged, but rather those who have the luxury to complain about their gyms being closed, or about not being able to see a football match, or even make a profit.

On a near daily basis, whenever the news covers cases or restrictions, a business owner is interviewed. These interviews are given far more airtime than people who represent food banks, charities, and victims of Covid. And while the victims of Covid are given the fluff piece treatment, charities and food banks are used to circle back into the overarching narrative that the issue isn’t that we have an economy and society that requires people to continuously work in order to survive, but rather those pesky restrictions.

It’s human nature to try to get away with what they can, but people haven’t been running shebeens (secret pubs) and hair-dressers out of the goodness of their hearts. They’ve been profiting. And despite the amount of people who could be dealing with the after effects of Long Covid for the rest of their life and despite all the deaths (a little over 5,800 in Ireland at the time of writing), there are people all too willing to pay. They don’t even recognise that they are in such a privileged position to be able to afford to get their hair cut and have a pint (or to profit from those who do), on top of not standing in line for food for their children while the news films feet away from them.

While other countries are just as guilty of scapegoating and declaring restrictions as this or that, it seems rich (pun not intended) for people who can ride out the pandemic in relative comfort to be talking about how their lives are in anyway comparable to those who lived under soviet control or died in the Holocaust, all because you can’t see a shitty movie in a sticky cinema? All because you want to slug back overpriced pints surrounded by alcoholics? All because you have to think about others for the first time in your life?

There’s a philosophical question that goes “Do we live in peacetimes broken by war, or wartimes broken by peace”. For the most prosperous nations the former state of the question would be their response. Moments like 9/11, 7/7, The January Insurrection, and riots are shocking for the Western world, but part of it comes from how out of the blue they are from normality.

Holocaust denial has increased in recent years not just because of the ease of misinformation to spread but also because of how far and alien it seems to the modern day. While historical revisionism can be blamed, it’s clear that as many who survived the camps die out from old age, our experience with such a horror shifts from eye witnesses to their accounts to recreations through films and books, which can easily be seen as fictional and detached from our world. We categorise it as shorthand for something really bad, dehumanising the real aftermath of it.

Our misunderstanding in likening the Pandemic and restrictions to war-crimes is proof not only how far we’ve progressed, but also how unencumbered we are to the point where inconvenience are monumental.

In short, we’re spoilt.

You know who isn’t complaining about not going to the gym or eating out or going on holidays? The nurses and doctors who have no choice but to face this pandemic head on. The scientists who, even after creating life saving vaccines, are dealing with sceptics and complications. They rely on you not spreading this, not fear mongering, not panicking, and you can’t even do that. You literally have the easiest job; be patient, be responsible, be reasonable. And you can’t even do that.

There’s a Louis CK joke (that doesn’t involve exposing himself to women) about a man complaining about there being no internet on a plane, flying him through the sky at hundred of miles per hour, with nothing expected of him other than to just sit there and wait. That’s us right now. We’re all just moaning and bitching while literal geniuses save us from ourselves.

This is not the Holocaust. This is not Communism. This is not 1984.

If it was, it would mean that while millions were marched to the gas chamber, there were people like you bitching about being told when to have a shower.

If it was, it would mean that as thousands slaved away in frigid gulags, there was some eejit like you whining that they should be paid for your slave labour.

If it was, it would mean I skipped the part of the book where someone complained to Winston that the 2 minute hate should be shorter.

If it was, then somewhere in the future they’d be people likening the next horrible event to this pandemic. Meaning there’s still assholes about in the future.

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Writer. Opinions are my own. https://ko-fi.com/conormatthews

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