Advice From the Trenches

Unmasked Too Soon: What’s one reader to do with her overly optimistic friends?

Dear C and Dr. B;

Yay, the pandemic is over! Except it isn’t. But some of my stupider friends are acting like it is. Three of them have already made plans to go south and head to the beaches for Spring Break. When I expressed my concern, I got: “Oooo…the bio chem major thinks she’s already a doctor!” Then yesterday when I was hiding out in a corner of the library, these four people walked in wearing masks to get past the door monitor, then they all came back, sat at the table next to mine, and took their masks off to study. When I politely asked them if they could either move to a safe distance or put their masks back on, one of them sneered, “Back off, bitch!” and the rest laughed and snickered.

OK, maybe I am just more aware because in my classes we’ve discussed what the medical consequences from opening restrictions too early could be. But come on! This is something we all should know. News about the variants is in the headlines every day! Our teachers have been vaccinated, but none of the students are going to qualify for months. What can I do to protect myself without alienating everyone around me?  _ Safe Sadie

Dr. B says:

You are 100% correct. Ignoring the truth and clinging to a belief we desire to be true is the current American way, probably even the human way. Going to Spring Break unmasked and crowding together to party is just plain stupid. There will be an increase in COVID afterward, and some people will die as a result of these actions.  

Being right is often associated with being disliked. It becomes a question of – what do you value? If you try to compromise and go along with the crowd but mask up and keep a distance, not only will you be made fun of and ostracized, but you will  probably be exposed anyway. There’s no way to protect yourself in uncontrolled circumstances. In legal terms, you are “guilty by association.” You chose to be there! 

The best advice is: Don’t agree to that which you don’t agree with. If you go along with your friends, you will get trapped in their bad decisions. Find like-minded people who are making better decisions and hang out with them. The quality of your life is determined largely by the skill set of the people you associate with.

The “cross the divide” attitude that we hear so much of now just doesn’t work – this thinking is premature and based on denial and wishful thinking, not science – it’s one reason why the infection rates aren’t going down. We are being misinformed and manipulated by certain sectors of the media that ignore both facts from experts and  basic common sense. You won’t become popular for sticking to the truth – but you and those around you might live longer. 

C says: Let’s face it – as a nation, we are largely self-entitled. Right or wrong, it is not an attitude that is going to change just because of a pesky pandemic. Many people take the motto “Live Free or Die,” quite literally.

Spring Break was doomed to be a fiasco. It’s spring! Youthful hormones are bursting forth and the adolescent brain is consumed with lust, not common sense. Young people always feel invulnerable … until they are smacked in the face by a life-altering catastrophe. Until then, they just don’t get it and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it except stay the hell away.

People will always want to kill the messenger. Ironically, after the dust settles, it is sometimes only the messenger who is left to tell the tale.

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