Earlier today on Facebook (where all good ideas go to die) I read three separate posts from friends telling people to “stay home, stay safe.” Every single one of them was dripping in self-righteousness and condescension. You must be an idiot if you’re clamoring to go eat in a restaurant or swim at the beach – that was the tone and continues to be the tone of quite literally every single person who is proudly and publicly toeing the “stay home, stay safe” (SHSS) line right now. I’m using “literally” literally. I’ve yet to see one SHSS post that isn’t bathed in Karenism.
Three weeks ago Georgia and Florida began opening up their economies and the SHSS crowd went crazy. They weren’t just annoyed, they were enraged. Many spit out hateful wishes that those going to the beach or stores would contract the virus themselves…it would serve them right. Some posted mock “contracts” for the “morons” to sign to give up their right to medical treatment or publicly funded services should they contract the virus. Many others expressed genuine fear at the possible consequences, making desperate posts predicting tragically surging infection rates and deaths if the toothless rednecks in the South didn’t come to their senses soon.
Fast forward to today and not only have the worst of the predictions not come true, both Georgia and Florida continue to post declining infection rates and fatality rates due to COVID-19. The consequences have been exactly the opposite of what the SHSS crowd had feared.
This is good news…right?
Not according to my social media timelines. The reactions from my SHSS friends and followers has ranged from begrudging recognition – “Fine but what happens when it gets cold/the kids go back to school/the second or third wave hits”– to utter silence. I have literally (and again, I use that word genuinely) not seen one post congratulating those states for surviving the reopening in tact or expressing relief and gratitude that the worst (and even the moderate) predictions of doom did not come true. These people actually seem disappointed that people aren’t dying in droves.
It is a bizarre phenomenon to watch. I’m sure smarter op ed writers than I have analyzed exactly why so many people are digging in like this but it’s my opinion that the COVID-19 panic has become nearly completely politicized. We’re no longer looking at data; we’ve stopped reading the articles and instead are stopping at headlines; we are no longer sharing information about the science of it all. Instead, our positions on the virus and our response to it have come to represent our partisan political positions. You want to go back to work? You must be a Trump voter and thusly, a moron. Want to stay in quarantine until there’s a vaccine? You must be zombie Brown Shirt and probably a trust fund baby or welfare recipient who isn’t worrying about working to eat.
Somehow the fears most of us originally shared have now devolved into sanctimonious bludgeons. “Stay Home, Stay Safe” in particular has come be synonymous with “You blithering idiots in red states gave us Trump so whatever you say about this virus is wrong, simply by virtue of how I think you voted.”
Where are the cheers? Where are the mea culpas? At the very least, where are expressions of excitement that the models were wrong? Don’t we want them to be wrong? Don’t we want to have grossly overestimated the death count in those states that opened? We’ve had weeks of tedious lectures about “science” and “data” and when the science and data finally shows that people can get back to their lives the SHSS crowd suddenly has no interest in such things. Worse, they have no interest in celebrating lives saved alongside jobs saved.
26 days since @ron_fournier and @jbouie said Georgia was headed for the apocalypse, seven weeks since Jamelle said the same about the whole “deep south.” Ron has had the guts to admit he was wrong. Will you do the same, Jamelle? pic.twitter.com/cHZ0MzdtM5
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) May 16, 2020
“Stay home, stay safe” has now become a virtue signal. Like #MeToo, it began in earnest. Also like #MeToo the goalposts supporting the movement keep shifting and people started politicizing it and now it’s just a hashtag instead of an expression that provokes thought and self-reflection.
I am shocked and so very disappointed to see so many people actively wishing death upon their fellow citizens just to prove themselves right. We should be happy that every day evidence is mounting that we can all go back to work and life and feel relatively safe about it. We should be happy that people are reopening their businesses and rehiring their workers. We should be happy that Georgia and Florida have been so successful in their handling of this situation.
The SHSS crowd has spent three weeks saying all they care about is saving lives. I can think of no earthly reason why these things wouldn’t fill all of us with joy and relief.
Unless, of course, you never really meant it in the first place and secretly hoped to see devastating fatality spikes among those people you’ve already been hating for quite a while.
I can't believe how many people out there are actually sad that that the south didn't get crushed by COVID deaths like they predicted. You'd think they'd be sharing the good news after being oh-so-concerned with saving lives. We live in bizarre times. #everythingispolitical
— Kira (@RealKiraDavis) May 16, 2020