You’re Not the COVID Police

I get it. We’ve all been dealing with COVID (in one way or another) for well over a year now. We’re all getting very tired of this whole ordeal. (At least, I assume I speak for everyone with that statement. Maybe there’s someone out there who thinks this is all a blast?) But one thing that’s definitely not helping is to have people start sniping at other people over the things those people are doing when it comes to COVID.

This goes both ways. You’ve got people who are yelling at other people for not wearing masks and others who are yelling at them because they’re wearing masks. You’ve got people upset that others are going on vacations, and others who are upset because more people aren’t going out and living their lives.

I have plenty of friends on Facebook. My feed is filled right now with pictures of them out and about, having fun in different places. Some of the places they’re having fun seem like situations I personally wouldn’t go to at the moment. Anything in-doors, unmasked, basically. Most of the places are out of doors, and I wouldn’t blink at doing that, especially if you can stay somewhat distant from other people.

But what I’m not doing is wasting time worrying about what they’re doing. My friends are grown adults, capable of making their own decisions, and they certainly don’t need to clear their activities with me before they go out and have fun. So instead, I’m trying to assume the best. Assume they’re all vaccinated. Assume they’ve already had COVID and so are immune for at least 6 months. Assume the people they’re with are in their personal bubbles. Assume they’re making the best decisions they can with the information they have available to them.

Right now, there are a million different approaches to “what’s right” when it comes to COVID. I went out to play tennis with a friend Saturday. We were at the local high school in the morning. Sunny. Breezy. Gorgeous. Neither of us was wearing a mask, because everything I know about this disease says that outside playing tennis is not the way I’m going to catch it. We never got within six feet of each other. It felt very safe to me. But then someone from the high school came to inform us that we all had to be wearing masks to use the court.

I went and put my mask on. I didn’t complain. I didn’t protest about my rights or about this being America or whatever. I was grateful I could use the public courts, and I’m willing to do whatever I’m asked to do, even if I may feel it’s overkill. (I’ve been on the other side of that interaction, having to tell people they can’t eat or drink in the library, and that they need to put their mask on. When it comes to my building, I am the COVID police, because I need to ensure people are following the rules for using our space.)

I’m sure if I had posted a picture of my friend and I playing tennis, some would have seen it and been disappointed we weren’t masked. I in turn would be disappointed in them for thinking so little of me as to assume I wasn’t being careful. Right now, it feels like following COVID guidelines is a lot like being a good driver. Everyone sees the choices they’re making as being justified and necessary and right, and it’s too easy to see the things other people are doing as reckless or too concerned.

This is coming from a person who very much believes this pandemic is real, and who’s very much concerned that people are treating it too lightly, on the whole. That said, I don’t believe people are going to be guilt tripped into following “the rules,” regardless of what you may believe those rules to be. (And that’s the thing, isn’t it? We all have different opinions of what you should and shouldn’t be doing, and it’s pretty much impossible to “prove” your opinion is right.) And so since pointing fingers isn’t going to do any good at all, what use is it to waste all that time, energy, and goodwill on something that does nothing to actually help the situation other than (debatably) make you feel better for having “done something”?

It’s easier to assume the best, remind ourselves we’re all in this together, and just keep plugging away as best we can.


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