Sunday, July 23, 2023

A Microcosm of Arguments

This thread of comments of how Covid is affecting younger people encapsulates many of the attitudes affecting the people most affected - and general ableism. I used pseudonyms, and I'm not linking because it might not be the thing they want to be known for. It was Elsie's thread, so responses were to her.

Teen: "Why don't more people talk about what the Covid lockdowns did to young people like me? At 15 years old, I was involuntarily isolated from my friends for SIX MONTHS. I didn't see them, I didn't meet them. The lockdown RUINED young people like me. An entire Generation."

Elsie: "Okay, so I was 19 when the pandemic started. I caught covid in March 2020, before lockdown, and never recovered. Now I can't work, can't leave the house, and I've had no friend for 3 years. So which is worse? A few months of lockdown or a lifetime of isolation?"

Mom: "My daughter spent a year and a half doing virtual school. Lost out on a lot of dreams she'd worked hard for (National competitions etc). I'm immune compromised, and me dying would be worse, but do NOT diminish the impact of isolation on many teenagers." 

Elsie: "I was also a teenager! What about my dreams? Or do they not count. I might never live independently, never have a job, never get married or have children. Why are my dreams worth less?"

Mom: "Why are you hosting the Suffering Olympics? It's quite unnecessary."

Elsie: "You came into my mentions and now you're accusing me of the suffering Olympics? Fuck off."

Rando1: "This is extremely dramatic. I realize it feels that way for you, but you are FAR too young to be going to such extremes as thinking your life is completely over. You are not doomed to a 'Lifetime of Isolation' unless you choose to live your life that way."

Elsie: "What part of 'I can't leave the house' are you not understanding? I physically cannot leave the house! I am housebound! By an illness caused by Covid! I am too ill to leave the house! There is no cure. Do you think I would choose to never leave the house and have no friends?"

Supporter: "I have a friend in their early 40s with Long Covid. She had to quit her job and her sister moved to take care of her. I met another young woman that had to quit her job and is housebound and isolated too."

Rando2: "There are always trade offs. Every day lives are tragically cut short because of car accidents. We could virtually eliminate those deaths by making the speed limit everywhere 10 km/h. It would save 1000s of lives. But we don't because it would be disruptive to trade and people's commuting time. We try to make reasonable safety measures (seat belts, air bags, speed limits) but we also implicitly acknowledge that some level of death is acceptable rather than take draconian measures that would reduce the quality of life for millions. Your dreams matter but have to be balanced against billions of other peoples' freedom and mental health."

Rando3: "Your condition, assuming it's real, is incredibly rare and you trying to make us all do something specifically for you, for YEARS, is quite frankly incredibly selfish."

Rando4: "You need to tell more because otherwise it may look like the illness is between your two ears. I seen peoples paralyzed from neck down have a social life. I seen a lady who lost all four limbs still find a way to life." 

Doc: "Look at her bio. She has ME/CFS and POTS. Two of the most debilitating conditions anyone can suffer. At the most severe end of ME/CFS patients are tube fed, can't speak or listen (sound is painful), can't tolerate light. Many can't watch TV or chew or go to the toilet alone. The quality of life for those with ME/CFS has been compared to the last two weeks of a terminal illness. But we live like it constantly, no chance to check off a bucket list, unable to spend time with loved ones or even sit up to go out in a wheelchair. And it's caused by viruses."

Rando5: "Dude you are not entitled to people's medical info. I don't think you realise how gross this is." 

RN: "In the last two years, three friends have died from sudden cardiac arrests. Two others have had strokes, including a 30-year-old; she died. A 40-year-old had covid once, and can't return to work due to sever short-term memory/cognitive deficits. Our son has lost three friends from Covid, including two brothers who died five weeks apart. Covid isn't mild, and no age is immune to Long Covid. Do everything possible to avoid getting infected.

Okay that last one was from a different thread, unfortunately. It might have stopped some of the Rando comments. 

So, even Fox News is acknowledging that "long Covid occurs in about a third of Covid survivors and is not the third leading neurological disorder in the United States." Rando2 up there is so close to getting it. We have safety measures to prevent car collision fatalities but don't have a 10 km/h speed limit. Except they think that's analogous to taking no safety measure to prevent Covid. Here's the thing: If we all just wore masks in public places and pressured businesses to clean their air with CR boxes and upper room UVI, we could definitely save 1,000s of lives without lockdowns. What we're currently doing with Covid is more like taking out all the seatbelts and air bags and knocking over speed limit signs in the name of freedom and belittling anyone who still drives with a seatbelt on. Why does the government think they have the right to tell me which side of the road I can drive on??

More to the point, though, pain is pain and can't be compared to determine which is worse because it all feels the worst relative to our circumstances. The worst thing that happens to you feels like the worst thing possible to happen. That's how we're wired. That's why we might suddenly think it's find to breath in smokey air if it's less smokey than yesterday, or feel safe with Covid hospitalization rates in which the lowest valleys are higher than previous peaks. It's all relative.

We are definitely all travelling in different boats in the same storm, with different levels of privilege and safety, for sure, but within each boat, the worst thing happening still feels horrible, even if it's running out of champagne. It takes an effort to see beyond our gunwale to the others to be able to check on them and then an even bigger effort to decide to share our resources. I'm not an apologist for billionaires; I'm giving them instructions. We need to check up on each other. 

This is such a hard time for everyone, and it's really hard for people just starting out. Young adults have so many barriers in their lives that most currently living generations didn't have. They've entered the theatre just in time for the closing credits. And Covid is cruel and barbaric. It is destroying so many lives in so many different ways, and it's just going to get worse. At the very basic level, we need to shelter people from the storm when we can. 

I can't help noticing all the problems with empty office buildings because so many people love working from home and with unhoused encampments popping up in the city. Imagine if we gave the building managers some rent, better than nothing, to allow people to stay there. Yup, tons of regulations would be broken. It's time to break them. 

The only thing that helps me manage through it all is the consolations of philosophy.

We're all asking Why me? even after many years of perfect health when we didn't think to ask how we got so incredibly lucky to be healthy for so long! We think there's must be a reason when things go wrong, but chalk it up to our own efforts when we get lucky. It might help if we can remember that today, right now, we're still here, in various states of pain and suffering and joy and calm. We're alive and maybe we can breathe fresh air, which is no longer an everyday occurrence, and maybe there's even some sunlight dappling through the trees and birds singing. 

If we measure today by the best times that we might have had if things had gone differently, we will be forever depressed and despairing. 

But if we measure today by the worst possibility, if we read about teen life historically, which wasn't even really a thing because they all got married so young and died in childbirth, or read about teens in places in the world right now where they're starving or their homes have been destroyed by flood waters or fire, and they have Covid, then it can all feel a little less bad. 

I mean, it still sucks, absolutely, but it could be a whole lot worse. The stoics taught all this a couple thousand years ago, but we are not quick studies! Well, I'm not.

The lockdowns ruined things for some people, but then it ended. Covid continues. We have to adapt with masks and cleaner air. And we have to look out for each other when our boats start sinking.

more or less - sort of Meditations Book V

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