On Easter Sunday, my "Come to Jesus" moment.
April 12, 2020
To paraphrase a saying, you can't fix stubborn. Especially now, with respect to COVID-19. So much misinformation, such simple rules, so many people misquoting and/or misbehaving.
I'm in good health, but over 70. That places me in a higher risk group so I've chosen to self-isolate as much as I can. In the last 4 weeks I've managed to limit my shopping to 4 times - twice for groceries, twice for the drug store. It helps that I was always an introvert, and comfortable with myself, so for me being alone does not mean being lonely. A credit card and willingness to use Amazon also helps.
But we are being asked to self-isolate, not just for ourselves, but to flatten the curve, to reduce the size of the coming 'peak' and the load on the health care system. It's not just about us. Yet I have friends, Facebook or otherwise, that stubbornly still visit with others, gather in a park, or go out every few days to various shops. Most of them do 'get it', they see why physical distancing is needed, but their need for social contact overrides this. Yes, most places have protocols in place to reduce risk, but the risk is still there.
I've a science background, and see myself as a logical person and a critical thinker and someone with empathy for the rest of the human race. I 'get it'. I've been trying to nudge/nag people, to get them to change, but they don't. And I've decided it's not worth the stress for me to try to change their behaviour. I give up.
Ditto for The Facebook - so many conspiracy theories, so much misinformation, so many arguments. Not worth it.
As the Serenity Prayer advises us:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference."
Does your serenity extend to every government decree and action? The Canadian government is giving $2000 per month to anyone with a pulse who is under 65, but nothing to retirees. Most seniors who have worked their whole lives receive a combined CPP + OAS of less than $1500 per month. How does this make any sense? Is it worth summoning the courage to try to change this, or should we just stay inside and crank up the video games for another month or two?
By the way, Trump wrote a cheque for USD$1200 to every single adult in America, plus $500 per child, with a clawback based only on annual family income over $75000. But what does he know about fairness?
Posted by: Eddie Monet | April 18, 2020 at 11:28 PM
What if the risk is exaggerated? In Ontario, you pretty much have to be sick enough to need hospital admission before you can get tested, so the severity of contracting the virus is clearly over-estimated. Considering (as you say) that many people are not effectively self-isolating, then either the virus is not particularly communicable, or there is a significant fraction of people who have already had it and don't even know it. In either case, the risk to society would be much less than you imagine.
The government has a monopoly on hospitals in Canada, and has done a terrible job managing them over decades. They will do anything to avoid taking the blame for that. The expected cost to them of hospitals being overrun (100% * loss of their jobs, power and reputation) is much greater than the expected cost to us (e.g. 50% chance of getting virus * 5% chance of needing ventilator * 50% chance ventilator saves you * 50% chance of no ventilator available = 0.6% extra chance of dying. For comparison, the chances of a 70-year-old Canadian dying of all causes other than Covid-19 in the next year is 1.5% (Statistics Canada).
Maybe your friends and acquaintances are acting rationally?
Posted by: James Bayes | April 20, 2020 at 09:17 AM
It is easy to make the case that the governments' response to the virus has caused greater harm than the virus itself, so I'm suprised you haven't considered it.
The total number of virus deaths so far in Canada is 1600. What is the cost to people whose cancer diagnosis and surgery have been cancelled since March 15 because of the government reaction to the virus?
Cancer.ca says there are (were) 617 people diagnosed with cancer every day. If delaying diagnosis and surgery costs them an average of one year of their 10 year life expectancy (i.e. 1/10th of their life), that is the equivalent of about 60 deaths per day for the last 35 days, or 2100 avoidable deaths directly attributable to the extreme response to the virus.
Why do their lives matter less than yours or mine? When is serenity just a fancy word for complacency?
Posted by: Concerned | April 20, 2020 at 09:57 AM
Posted by: X | April 21, 2020 at 05:13 PM
You are probably right to give up. Proselytizing your beliefs when others disagree can be very stressful. One technique I've used successfully in these situations is to imagine that my opinion could be wrong, and really try to understand the other side of the argument. When this works well, the need to police my friends and relatives disappears, and with it the stress.
Posted by: X | April 21, 2020 at 05:16 PM