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One year ago today, my name trended on Twitter for a full day with the phrase “Grandma killer” because of this thread:
You can call me a Grandma killer. I’m not sacrificing my home, food on the table, all of our docs and dentists, every form of pleasure (museums, zoos, restaurants), all my kids’ teachers in order to make other people comfortable. If you want to stay locked down, do. I’m not.
— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) May 6, 2020
In the thread, I warned about the total destruction of our society if we continued to remain under total lockdown. What we were promised, two weeks to slow the spread (in order to secure enough ventilators and PPE) had turned into an indefinite situation, and nobody was willing to put an endpoint on the crisis. Was it a vaccine? If so, we were in for sure ruin.
Here we are, a year later, and miraculously, we have a vaccine available to any adult who wants it (thank you Operation Warp Speed!). And yet, in my county at least, we are still expected to mask outdoors and indoor dining is still limping along at 25 or 50% (I can’t keep track). What is the end for my county, the home of the hero Dr. Anthony Fauci? We had 14 new cases today and one death, it feels like this is our new status quo.
Of late, I’ve been reading a lot of people talk about having “empathy” for those for whom readjusting to post-pandemic life is proving difficult. Recently in her fabulous Substack, my friend Bari Weiss wrote,
In other words, once we are stuck inside it is very hard to unstick ourselves. I’m trying to remind myself of this truth when I find myself wanting to berate friends who, fully vaccinated, look at me with crazy eyes when I suggest coming over for dinner. PTSD might be too strong a descriptor, but it’s not so far off either.
So try to have empathy for friends like these, who are having a hard time unlocking lockdown. But also: it’s ok to ignore their judgment and not waste a moment second-guessing having dinner with other vaccinated friends.
Respectfully, no, I’m sorry, I cannot feel empathy for most of these folks. The Venn Diagram of people who cannot find themselves able to go into a restaurant and those who have cheered the lockdowns of the last fourteen months are a near-total overlap. It’s these folks who have stayed mostly silent over the last year+ when at least 17% of restaurants closed (that was according to a study released in December), as remote learning and social distancing has destroyed an entire generation of mostly poor kids, our local zoo was irrevocably wrecked, and more. Lives have been destroyed this past year, small businesses brought to ruin, and I’ve yet to see much empathy about the situation from those who have spent the year Zooming into their jobs from their couches with pajama bottoms on.
I’m angry that we’re here a year later, with not one, not two, but three different vaccines on the market, and I’m expected to feel sorry not for the people who lost everything, but for those who at best stayed silent, and at worst loudly cheered the “necessity” of the lockdowns across the country.Published in