COVID19 has the recovery rate of 99% – with or without lockdown and whether you have a Christmas meal for eight or not. Another lockdown will destroy lives and open doors for the disease of misery. Sadly, the symptoms won’t be immediately apparent. There will be no treatment. There will be no light at the end for those affected by it. They will be, as they have been, left to fend for themselves.
Another lockdown will fail to stop Coronavirus. It may postpone some deaths because Coronavirus does not care what we do. It does not obey our rules and laws. It does not speak our language. It just waits. It will always come back stronger the day Boris let’s you out of your cage you call safety and out of your chains you call security.
And those who demand another lockdown with strict and enforceable measures lack imagination. The selfish fear has blinded them to the road ahead of them. They fail to realise that inviting the government to their homes, their bedrooms and dinner tables can only lead back to that cage and back in those chains. You might think this is a life worth existing for, but I don’t. Yes, I said existing, not living. It is just surviving in anticipation of another lockdown or an announcement that safety has been restored. And while you sit in that cage, hoping for a brighter day you hear the screams and suffering of agony. That is your future being slaughtered. That is the future of your children dissolving in the fears of the present.
You convince yourself that it’s not that bad. You can stretch your legs, your food gets delivered and left just outside of your cage. Life is good. You know everyone else’s chains are just as tight, so you know you are all in this together. You know it will be alright. You know that whoever’s put you all in here will look after you all. There it is again – that brighter day you dream of night after night before the cold, soulless steel of your cage snaps you out of that fantasy.
You see across the room people shouting, people planning escape, people plotting against the ruler. You see people getting sick and being left to rot in isolation. You see a woman giving birth to another slave of the system. You see another man killing himself because his hope for a better tomorrow didn’t wake up with him this morning. You see a little girl who, you know, will soon be absorbed by the algorithm. But “It’s for our own good”, you convince yourself. You wish these shouting, plotting and resisting idiots would see it your way.
The mornings are your favourite. The screen plays your favourite show. It’s the glamourous people of the Capitol with their big words, expensive suits, plastic faces and plastic personalities who get paid thousands every day telling you what a great job you’re doing obediently sitting in your cage. Their life continues. Your life and your struggle are just entertainment to them. They go back to their mansions and care only that you tune in every morning and treat them like prophets. They debate, they argue, they invite guests who don’t give a shit about you and decide how long you need to stay in that cage while poverty, misery, suicide, bankruptcy, cancer, abuse join forces for a prosperous purge every night.
You sit quietly. You look the other way repeating the mantra dictated to you by the screen
“It’s for the greater good, comrade”
The end justifies the means, you add, while the slaughter and terror happen all around you. As long as you’re safe from that one single threat, you don’t think what might come for you tomorrow. You think you will be spared by the purge if you just sit quietly and do as you are told. You don’t realise that your fate has already been decided and your soul has already been sold to the highest bidder – the Devil himself. And the chains that you wear as virtue and for your safety will be the very reason why you will remain enslaved while gratefully repeating the mantra and thanking your masters for keeping you safe.
Who would have thought that a piece of cloth would cause so much controversy? Who would have thought it would divide us just like the Brexit vote did? And yet, here we are. The Facemask. It’s on everybody’s mouth right now. Literally and figuratively. Some people oppose the facemasks being mandatory in public settings, some claim they don’t mind it. Which camp are you in? Me, personally, I don’t wear them, haven’t worn them, and don’t plan to. I don’t believe I can convince anyone not to wear them, so I am not going to try, at least not in this article. Today, I will just attempt to deconstruct some of the most common arguments, statements, accusations, choices, beliefs, and claims, and more made by mask wearers or mask supporters. These come largely from Twitter, so in no way am I trying to paint everyone with the same brush. I know Twitter brings the worst of us and in no way represents the entire group of people, in this case mask wearers, Karens, whatever you want to call them. Some of the things I mention are my personal observations in my daily life, so again, I only interact with a small sample of the population so the conclusions, whatever they may be, are drawn from this small sample, and they are all my reflections. This is why I will try to stay away from scientific research on whether facemasks work, how they work, and who should wear them. I may include some links at the bottom. I should say this though – not all doctors and scientists agree that facemasks work or should be worn by the healthy individuals, so let’s stop pretending that they do. And now on with the Facemask Logic.
Facemasks and other measures explained
The mandatory facemasks in shops. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? But which beginning? Beginning of mandatory masks, or all non – essential shops reopening? Because the former happened nearly two months later. For two months people had a choice and could make their own judgement whether or not to wear a mask. Nobody judged those who chose not to wear it. Nobody called them “conspiracy theorists” or “anti – maskers”. Not until 24th July. Then, just because the government had pulled this rule out of their ass, if you opted out of covering your face, you became a fugitive, a criminal, a serial killer and a sociopath. Even though a day earlier, you could walk into the same places and you would have been greeted and all your needs would have been met. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Is it about the health, or is it about obeying the rule? What really makes one a bad person? Seems like disobedience is the answer. Nobody likes the rule breakers who get away with it.
The baggy mask. This is something I see all the time. That baggy, moist, blue cloth flopping around on your face. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re really not, darling. Assuming that your facemasks is supposed to prevent you from spreading this deadly disease, how exactly is this baggy parachute, you call face covering, supposed to stop anything?
The mask on the chin. This comes in many forms. The chin is definitely the second, after the face, most common body part people wear their masks on. I get it. It’s a drag. You hate it, but you must obey the rules. You’re in and out of shops, so you pull it down when you can, and put it back on as soon as you step into Poundland. Not to mention pulling your mask down to unlock your phone using face recognition. You probably touch many things in between. Your face becomes itchy, so, instinctively, you give it a little scratch. The constant touching of your face and your mask creates more problems than it solves. To protect yourself from the harmful side effects of wearing it throughout the day, you’d have to change masks every time you touch it after your hands have touched an item in the shop or a door handle. Something tells me many people don’t do it and they just use the same mask. Later they either put it in their pocket, as my friend told me he does, for later use (I don’t even want to know what collects on it from loose change, sweat or hands).
The Mask graveyard. The street is where many masks reach the end of their road. They die slow and miserable death. First they get flattened, almost like that legendary curve. Then the blue fades and they die. You’d think that such dangerous items should be disposed of more carefully. Instead, apparently they can just be binned, if they’re lucky. Some get picked up by birds. Others tangled around their legs, or necks. Whatever the way, the fate is the same – death. They served their purpose – they saved humanity.
The Seatbelt. “So, you refuse to wear a seatbelt as well?” People use this argument thinking it will win them the argument. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard it. Those who use it fail to see their own fallacy. First they will try to convince you that facemask protects others from you, then they compare it to a seatbelt. Seatbelt protects the wearer. While we’re on the subject of seatbelts, I must mention another common disagreement I often have with people. I strongly believe that we are, or at least we should be, responsible for ourselves, not for each other. At least not constantly. I think our priority should be our health and safety and that of our loved ones. It is your job to look after yourself, not mine. To illustrate what I mean, let’s use the seatbelt analogy. As a driver, I am responsible for my passengers. I make sure everyone has a seatbelt on. It is not my problem if people in other cars are wearing their seatbelts. They make their own choices, however bad they are. I obey the traffic rules, but they are there to prevent accidents, not just potential accidents. There are no exemptions. There is no conflicting science about the traffic rules. They are there because all drivers must know and agree on them when driving at high speed. Let me give you a better argument. Sufficient sleep can be better used to argue for the use of masks to protect others. Insufficient sleep is the leading cause of driving accidents. If you routinely sleep less than six or even seven hours, you increase the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel and causing an accident. To protect others, you should only drive if you’ve been sleeping enough.
The Titanic. Someone shared this meme on Facebook. It attempts to ridicule “conspiracy theorists” in a similar way as the above nonsense. I want to focus on a couple of points here. The “Nobody can force me to wear a lifejacket” is just another version of the above argument. Lifejackets save the life of the wearer, not the others who are drowning. Also, we can’t really be comparing the sinking of the Titanic to our current situation. Just think about it. You’re on board and even if you’re on the “dry” bit, you can’t deny that the ship is sinking. It is happening. The disaster is unfolding right in front of your eyes. It is inevitable. You don’t need to see data, statistics or evidence of it. You don’t ask for a second opinion. With things like mask wearing, lockdowns and various other restrictions, you can and should be asking questions. There are many discrepancies in the official COVID19 narrative and calling those who point them out “conspiracy theorists” is simply not good enough of an argument. People on the Titanic had no reason to doubt the reality and seriousness of the situation. There were no “sinking deniers”. Coronavirus data, on the other hand, is conflicting, and many people wonder if we aren’t simply overreacting. And many of us have lost and sacrificed a lot blindly trusting the government and listening to the so-called experts.
“You wear clothes, don’t you?”. Before he blocked me, one Twitter user tried to persuade me with another weak argument. He argued that I disobey the mask rule, while happily complying with the rules concerning wearing clothes. As in covering my naked body with clothes. This is actually one of my favourite stupid argument because it reaches into areas I find interesting and fascinating – anthropology, biology, history, evolution and psychology. I am in no way an authority on any of these, but I’ve read enough to know that we don’t wear clothes simply because of some rules imposed on us by society or authorities. What we wear, of course is influenced by where we live, how old we are, what is available to us, and if we’re trying to advertise our personality with our clothes. Why we wear clothes is a different matter. Protection is the main if not the only reason for covering our bodies. We have to remember that modern humans emerged around 100 000 years ago, but human evolution that led up to it happened over millions of years. Most of this time was evolutionarily uneventful, however some tools were invented. Humans lived in small tribes and moved around a lot. As we left Africa, we had to protect ourselves from new and often challenging weather conditions. Predators and parasites, mosquitoes were also a threat. I am not saying we covered our bodies head to toe, and I am not saying that whatever we used was effective either. Another reason for wearing clothes as protection is our upright posture. It exposes our most vulnerable and essential body parts and organs to potential threats whether it’s from the predators, infection or other humans. On the outside we have our reproductive organs which are essential and female breasts for feeding the offspring. All other mammals have their backs to provide hard and wide cover for the internal and external body parts. We needed to find another way as our upright posture open a whole new world of possibilities. Shame and embarrassment were probably introduced by our brain to reinforce this new habit of covering up the vulnerable body parts. They are still with us today. If wearing clothes was just some rule written down in a book somewhere, then we wouldn’t feel embarrassed about being seen naked or exposed. But we do, which shows that covering up is rooted in our psychology and is governed by subconscious rules rather than societal policies, and it had to evolve over tens of thousands of years, if not millions. And what was once used as means to protect our bodies from climate and predators led to men wearing skinny jeans and women exposing their most attractive parts and covering those unappealing. But this is something for another time – what we do to attract the opposite sex.
The Coronavirus doesn’t go to the gym . Turns out she doesn’t like pubs either. The experts in the government seem to have made the masks mandatory in certain places, but not others. Apparently the masks aren’t mandatory where they are inconvenient. Of course, in a pub or restaurant you eat and drink, so a facemask can be very inconvenient. But, if you take into consideration that we are meant to be in the middle of the worst pandemic known to mankind, you’d think inconvenience is a small price to pay to keep everyone safe. However, recently Boris and his advisors must have read my mind because they have now made facemasks mandatory in those places too. You are now very likely to spread the virus when waiting to be seated, walking to the toilet, but not when seated. Same thing with gyms. COVID19 will apparently not target you when you’re squatting or bench pressing. You can go mask free and enjoy your workout. Having said that, The Pure Gym have apparently made their members wear masks between each set and each exercise. Huffing and puffing in front of a dumbbell rack is ok, but when you’re done, please keep everyone safe, and #WearTheDamnMask
“Go back to your country if you’re not happy”. I wasn’t going to include this one, but I have since heard it so many times that it just begs to be addressed. Usually someone on Twitter, without having much to say to defend their argument, would look at my Twitter bio and think they found a way to shut me up for good. “Go back to your country, if you don’t like censorship, dictatorship, suppression of freedom of speech and assembly” was the most recent response I got when I defended people’s right to gather and protest what they think are injustices, which include coronavirus measures taken by the government. These people, don’t for a minute, stop and think that they, or their children will be next. They seem to see nothing wrong with the government arresting people for speaking out. But the very reason why this argument is a fallacy is because it is personalised to me. To win an argument or debate, one must address opposing arguments, not who they are coming from. My views are shared by thousands of Brits who can’t “go back to their own country”. What will you say to them?
Asian people wear masks all the time. They do. They do because of pollution which affects them more than it affects us. Also, if they are wearing masks, then how did coronavirus ever manage to escape China and travel the world as quickly as it did? I mean you see Asians wear their masks in London too, so it’s not like they stop when they leave Beijing. Another interesting fact is that Chinese people get seasonal flu just like the rest of us despite the growing mask culture. We also can’t neglect the psychological effects constant mask wearing poses, not to mention long term medical problems that can occur. China and other Asian countries are collectivist societies, while we, in the West, are individualistic. This means that it may be easier for them to get in the spirit of “We are all in this together” or “The greater good”, than us. I am not saying one is better than the other and we ought to be like Japan, but we simply cannot ignore the differences between us and say we should just over night become like them. Let’s not forget that China is a communist regime, where citizens must be on their best behaviour all the time, including their private life or they face consequences. Let’s not pretend it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Their obedience of the rules comes as a package. You can’t just pick one aspect of it, and hope it would work in the UK, which is divided politically, nationally, racially, and expect people to have the same level of commitment to the collective society. You don’t want to be like China. Trust me.
Facemasks are the new virtue signal. At the beginning, when countries started locking down, celebrities were all taking part in the #StayHome. When I say all, I mean all the ones we heard from, most remained quiet. All of them showed us how virtuous they were, how responsible they were by staying home and saving lives. They all did their home workouts, Instagram live from their living rooms – just to show they are staying at home. I should also mention here, how a few celebs seemed to get COVID19 at the beginning, almost like it needed more advertising, more screen time to get us all in line. Then, when facemasks were on everyone’s mouth – figuratively and literally, all these celebrities, politicians and other public figures started posting their pictures and videos with masks on – something they never had done before. Not until it became a new way to show how good and responsible you are. It’s kind of like they have to be seen wearing a facemask so that the general public sees it as the right thing to do. Quite recently The Rock also announced he had coronavirus. How strange that a man with millions of followers needs to tell them he has a cold, but Chadwick Boseman managed to keep his cancer to himself. He obviously sadly died recently, while The Rock is back on the set. Somehow, none of those who announced their infection died of it or were hospitalised. Some musicians and other artists have died AFTER testing positive (meaning not necessarily because of COVID19, but with it or simply of other causes up to 28 days after testing positive), but I don’t remember any announcements from them.
All governments can’t be wrong can they? Of course, they can. Most governments have locked down because they listened to a handful of men and their predictions. Neil Ferguson made a doomsday prediction which made Boris Johnson and Donal Trump decide to lockdown. Many other countries followed simply because they didn’t want to do the wrong thing by not doing anything. Most government officials are just trying to save their careers, not our lives. If they don’t do anything, people will have their heads. Sweden did pretty good, but nobody wants to talk about it. Australia has turned into a police state, where you can’t even put a Facebook post up disagreeing with lockdown or you get arrested. The UK’s rules and restrictions make no sense at all. On top of that, people seem to need to have someone hold their hand constantly and tell them when it’s ok to cross the road. Just make your own judgement. All governments can be wrong! Billions of people still believe in some version of a god and are most likely wrong. For most of the human history, people bought and sold slaves in every corner of the earth. That was wrong. In every country that faces restrictions, thousands of people have protested against them. You may believe they are wrong. One expert made a scary prediction for the entire world, and everyone listened. The question is. How many of us will get any taste of normality back after this?
“I really don’t mind wearing a facemask”. No, you don’t mind not having a choice but to wear a facemask. People think they don’t mind wearing it are just kidding themselves. They have simply been convinced that they can no longer make decisions about their bodies, and they are alright with it. This passive obedience is easy and comfortable. The hard thing to do is to say no. It is easier to pretend everything is fine, because if you don’t, if you admit that your rights and freedoms are being taken away from you, you face a dilemma. You either have to stand your ground and fight, which is hard and difficult, may result in losing friends and social life. Or you don’t do anything about it and admit you are a coward, hoping someone else will be the hero you need. Doing nothing is hard in this case too because every day you obey these rules, you step out into that world and live a lie, it is eating you inside, and in the long term, this will not be good for your mental health. Pretending that everything is alright is the easiest thing you can do. And that is why you do it.
Masks should be mandatory outside. – I watched a clip on You Tube. A reporter was asking people in Liverpool what they thought about the coronavirus measures taken by the government. One man said that masks should be mandatory outside. I found it really ironic because he was outside, and he was not wearing a facemask. He could voluntarily wear one outside, as many others do already, but he is waiting for Boris Johnson to make it mandatory, is that right? This is the state of these people. These are the people who would go to the beach and complain that there is no sign warning that the water is wet.
False sense of safety. Facemasks provide false sense of safety. There have been many studies that suggest that facemasks don’t stop the spread of viruses. This includes surgical masks. This information is available, so I won’t get into that here. Not to mention the way people wear their masks, how many times they reuse the same mask, how they store their reusable masks, and what type of masks they wear. People tend to touch their face more often with their masks on. I mean, just yesterday, I was getting a haircut, and my barber kept adjusting her mask. Had she been given a choice, she would not be wearing it, but this applies to everyone else. People touch their faces more often because masks irritate them. This often happens before they get a chance to wash or sanitise their hands. Add to it the number of times they have to take off their mask to unlock their phone and eat or drink. When you look at it like this, you can’t help but think about all the bacteria you transfer directly to your face from the surfaces you constantly touch. You may think you’re helping others, but you’re harming yourself.
If nurses can, so can you. This argument gets thrown around a lot. It also comes in the form of “If masks don’t work, then why do nurses wear them?”. Everyone likes to sound like they know what they are talking about, but they don’t. Right now, during the pandemic, nurses and other medical staff wear facemasks throughout their shift. This, however, was never the case before. And it is the before this argument is based on. Let’s tackle it. As I mentioned, the medical staff never used to wear facemasks their entire shifts. They did so only when working close to a patient’s incision. The reason for that was and is not to not infect the patient with a flu or another virus. It is precisely to not infect that surgical cut with bacteria from their mouth. On top of that, masks are not the only way they reduce the risk of such infection. Their whole outfit is sterile and again – it is only to not infect the patient with bacteria. There is conflicting data on whether surgical masks stop the spread of flu like viruses. So, the argument is not good enough, because nurses do not wear masks all the time (in normal circumstances), and when they do, it is not to stop everyone from getting ill, but to stop the spread of the bacteria directly into patient’s incision. If, however, you want to rely on the medical staff, let me tell you something. The other day my wife went to the hospital. She is pregnant and has asthma. At the time we weren’t clued up about exemptions too much and we thought they didn’t apply in the hospitals which made it harder to stand our ground. I didn’t wear it, but I wasn’t allowed to go past the reception anyway. Tried to explain to the man that she was pregnant and had asthma. His response? He put his finger inside his mask, pushed the mask out to allow more air flow, and said this should be sufficient enough to grasp some air if she struggled to breathe. So apparently it is ok to put your finger, full of bacteria, close to your mouth (while all posters and medical advice asks you to not touch your face without washing your hands) to allow yourself to breathe freely. The man also said that without a doctor’s note, she had to wear the mask, but doctors are not allowed to give exemption notes. Had this happened a week or two ago, I would have known our rights in these illogical rules.
Grief. This will make me sound heartless, and maybe I am, but grief is not an argument. Feelings are not arguments. I feel sympathy with everyone who has lost a loved one in any circumstances. But losing a loved one to COVID19 does not prove the severity of this disease. I would argue that grief, just like anger blind our judgement and censor our critical thinking. Think of a boxer stepping into a ring. If he is angry with his opponent, he is very likely to let the anger rule over his experience, expertise and his plan of action. Only if he is calm, focused can he stick to the plan, rely on his skills and strength. He has to be emotionally detached from the fight. The same applies to everything else in life. No good decision is ever made when we are angry or upset. The book How Not to Worry by Paul McGee taught me this. We are less likely to make a good judgement when we are emotionally attached to the situation at hand. This is why after a breakup we might think we will never love again, but our best friend reassures us that this feeling will pass. How is the friend so confident? Because she is not emotionally attached to your problem. I am not saying we should not be emotional when we lose a loved one during the pandemic. I am saying that when we do, it is hard for us to think critically, look at the statistics, the real death rate as well as somebody else can without grief blocking their common sense. Fear, grief and anger are your worst friends when trying to remain rational. Once you block them, your vision becomes clear. But they are not arguments.
This list could probably go on. Feel free to add your own. I have been collecting these for weeks and had to narrow them down to the ones I find most illogical and stupid and the ones that come up the most. If you think I am wrong about any of this, also let me know. Who knows, you might just have the right argument and turn me into a mask wearer.
“Should I shut up and be quiet in the face of things that I think are injustices because it makes me safer? A lot of pragmatic people will say, ‘Well, yeah, you’ve done enough, you’ve done your part. Be safe, be happy’ […] The system, the world, it all gets worse every day that we don’t do something about it. Every day we stay silent about the injustices we see, the world gets worse. Yeah, it’s risky. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable, but that’s why we do it. Because if we don’t, nobody else will. All those years I was sitting hoping for someone else to come forward, and no one did, is because I was waiting for a hero. But there are no heroes. There are only heroic decisions. You are never further than one heroic decision away from making a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small difference, or a big difference, because you don’t have to save the world by yourself. In fact, you can’t. All you have t do is lay down one brick. All you have to do is make things a little bit better, so that other people can lay their brick on top of that, and together, day by day, year by year, we build the foundation of something better.”
Feeling like saying misleading information about COVID19? Don’t worry. Every time the temptation to do so is stronger than your rationality, the mask will censor your speech by making a “beep” sound. The best part about it is, you can customize the censorship sound by connecting to your favourite Spotify playlist! Now, every time you want to say things like “masks don’t work”, you will instead entertain your listeners with your favourite tunes!
I bring to you The Smart Mask! You heard me folks! No more wet baggy cloth flopping around on your face. The future of masks is here, almost like they’ve been working on it for some time.
But that’s not all! Just when you thought our smart mask couldn’t get any better, it does! Whenever you question the mainstream narrative, the government, existence of coronavirus, intentions of the billionaires involved in saving you, and many more, the mask sends electric shocks, which strength varies depending on what you speak against. Full list of offences comes with the mask, but you can add your own forbidden speech too!
Do I have you at the edge of your seat yet? Well, you will just love this next feature! When you’re feeling adventurous, and decide to go on a road trip during lockdown when Pandemic 2 happens, (we call it the pandemic 1), the mask will lock on your face and restrict your air flow, suffocating you, if you do not return to the zone within the government mandated distance of your home. Don’t hesitate! Order yours now! Keeping your community safe has never been easier.
Approved by factcheckers, WHO, Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
So, out of curiosity, like every other conspiracy theorist, I googled “How to boost your immune system”. I was expecting to find plenty of tips from our beloved, clap worthy NHS, and The World Health Organization. There was, however no articles, or tips from any of them on the first two pages of the search result. The closest I got to anything “reliable” was this article from April by the trustworthy BBC, who always have your best interest in mind. Here they attempted to debunk the idea that you can boost your immune system. Funny how, before the pandemic, it was a well known fact that good nutrition, sleep, rest, managing stress, regular exercise, and even sunshine boosted your immune system. They may not protect your from every virus, 100% of the time, but they increase your chance of beating it or getting away with minor symptoms.
Now, if you google “Vaccines”, NHS and WHO jump to the top of your results, all promoting vaccination. Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning effectiveness of vaccines. I have never really thought about them. I just assumed they were part of life. What I am questioning in this post is that you’d expect NHS and WHO to be your top results when you’re asking how to naturally stay healthy. Instead, they just tell you to take more pills and vaccines.
Another interesting fact is, if you use another search engine (I use duckduckgo.com whenever I want to find unfiltered results), and search for “vaccines” you don’t get bombarded with NHS and WHO sites. Instead, you get a variety of results, including articles on side effects, and pros and cons of vaccines. The first WHO page appears as number 60 in the results, comparing to number 3 when you use Google. When you use duckduckgo.com and search how to boost your immune system, the results are similar to Google, with no NHS or WHO mentions.
Are drugs the only way to keep us healthy? Why searching for exactly the same words gives different results when using different search engines? Even if you search for “pros and cons of vaccines”, Google will give you slightly different results, bringing the “pros” to the top of your results, while duckduckgo gives you a variety to look through.
Regardless of what you think about vaccines, don’t you think people should know their pros and cons, and be able to find them using any search engine? All I am saying is, it’s funny how all the ancient wisdom of immune system seems to have died of COVID19 this year. Now you are just told to stay inside, avoid people, avoid sun, wash your hands, wear a mask and stay put while they work on the magic elixir that will make you healthy. That is all you need.
Some lockdown restrictions are back in parts of Northern England, and as I read through the news article about it, I realised something. I realised how the word “Household” quickly replaced words like “Family” and “Friends”.
If you convince us we are nothing but households, it’s easy to convince us you can put restrictions on us. After all, we are not people, persons, and definitely not families. Just households. Your mom is no longer your mom, but someone in a different household. It’s easier to dictate to households what they can and cannot do, than it is to dictate to parents and their children or boyfriend and girlfriend who want to see each other. But if you reduce us to households and get rid of our relationships, it is easy to convince us you can allow or disallow our interaction.
What is reducing us to households if not an attempt to weaken ties with our family and friends so we don’t rebel against these restrictions? Just turn us into brainless TV consuming, not questioning anything obedient members of society, where family is just some word you hear in old movies. We have Zoom, we can tell Alexa to turn on our TV, and our Amazon parcel is only 6 stops away. Who needs distractions like a family, friends, and the sense of belonging?
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”
What follows might be bollox, so be warned.
Me and my wife went to London the other day. It was the first day out since lockdown started. It was also the first time either of us used public transport. It was a nice day, but it would have been nicer if it weren’t for the constant dehumanizing reminders that we are all dangerous, potentially infectious, dirty bags of germs. Before boarding the train in Watford, everyone masked up like a good, responsible citizen. Everyone apart from us. My wife had kept two masks in her purse in case we were told off, but I was not going to put one on no matter what. My wife, who is asthmatic, was willing to suffer a short-term discomfort to avoid confrontation. I wasn’t. The people in Euston stared at us like they had just seen Bonnie and Clyde – that couple they recognized from the “Wanted” posters. Some eyes spelled fear, while others expressed disgust, and confusion – how are they getting away with this disobedience?
The ancient instinct
As the quote above suggests, I am not willing to sacrifice my liberties for temporary safety. I am responsible for my own safety and you are for yours. This should be where the mask debate ends. But it doesn’t so, if you’re persuaded by the government’s advice and “the science”, then by all means, wear a mask, gloves, goggles, and a top hat if you want. My problem is with the government trying to take my right to take responsibility for my own life away from me. I don’t need the state to be my parent. I can make my own informed decisions about my health and safety. I can take risks and those who don’t want to take them can, just as well, stay home and “stay safe”. This has been my stance throughout the lockdown. The belief that it is OUR job to take responsibility for ourselves and our immediate family and keep them safe from harm. It’s not up to me to keep you or your grandad healthy or alive. As harsh as this sounds, this is true, and no amount of online shaming is going to change that.
We care for our own. Countless scientific research, as well as common sense, confirms that we, as humans and as mammals, value the health of our own family members more than that of strangers. Our own children and children of our siblings are the priority because they carry our genes. And even though we don’t think about it like this, our genes want to survive by being passed on to our offspring. So, the genes make us love and care for our children and protect them from harm. We share genes with our brothers and sisters, so their kids are, by definition, successful copies of our genes. Unlike our parents, who have already contributed to the growth of our family tree. The job of the next generations is to continue that expansion. That’s why we love our children and want the best for them. Anyone who has children or is expecting one, like me, knows how important it is to keep them safe and everyone else, including our own parents, becomes less important. It’s not that we stop caring. Poor health or the death of a parent definitely does hurt, and we never fully expect it even when we have every reason to. It’s that we know that as they age, the chances of them getting seriously sick skyrocket and we are wired to accept that. It’s tough to think your mom or dad will die one day, but this day will come, and you know it. We never think in these terms about our children. Because we know the circle of life by now. “No mother should bury her son”, I heard once in a movie. We, as parents, should be the first to go and it’s up to us to make sure the natural order occurs.
This instinct is hard wired so deep inside our subconsciousness that we can’t control it. We think we can. But we can’t. In the end, there is an order in which we value human life and what we are willing to do to protect, save, or defend it. This means risking our life, health or even principles, beliefs and values we hold to save somebody’s life, depend on our relationship with the person and what danger face. Another factor also plays a role. It is the hypothetical victim or a number in the statistic VS a real person we know or can relate to. Smoking illustrates it perfectly.
The older you
Research finds that approximately seven thousand non-smoking adults die from lung cancer in The United States each year because of inhaling second-hand smoke. It is not a big number in a country of three hundred and thirty million people. Nevertheless, it’s over seven thousand people whose lives are cut short because of other people’s unhealthy lifestyle. How many smokers would be willing to quit smoking if it helped lower that number? I’d say no one would when presented with a simple statistic. How many would quit or be more mindful of others if the statistic turned into real people with names, families, dreams and plans? I’d say more people would consider quitting. What if quitting smoking meant saving someone they knew? Someone they were close to? I’d say the number of quitters would rise significantly.
It is for the same reason we don’t really think or care about starving children in Africa, but we would care more about a single African child with a name, face, and dreams even if we only met him in a documentary, charity advert or a leaflet from the same organisation. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s what we do. We think it’s upsetting and unfortunate, but we aren’t willing to do anything that would cause us discomfort to help those in need.
According to the Telegraph article from 2019, six thousand non-smokers die of lung cancer in the UK each year. The article however links the deaths to pollution. How many of us, honestly, are willing to give up certain luxuries, like flying or driving to save six thousand people? My guess is this number doesn’t impress anyone even if it’s so close to home. The truth is, in my opinion, that we don’t want to give up our comfort because we convince ourselves that our effort has little to no impact on the lives of those six thousand men, women and children. It is the same with smoking. Cigarettes pose a threat to the smoker and those around him, but he is not convinced to quit. Why? I believe it’s because he doesn’t see the direct correlation between his actions and the health of his friends and family. And smoking doesn’t always lead to death of lung cancer and when it does, it takes years or decades. If cigarettes killed or caused cancer in 99% of smokers within months and not decades, then less people would smoke. Smoking however, doesn’t always lead to lung cancer and smokers often live to a very old age. In fact, cigarettes can just contribute to poor health with the help of other unhealthy habits like eating junk food and lack of exercise. So, even though there is addiction involved, many smokers just don’t see a direct threat. The damage isn’t done in a day or a month and can’t be observed in real time. One day you may or may not develop a cough and may or may not die prematurely, but the “may or may not” is not convincing enough to make a lifestyle change. This is, I believe, the reason why people start smoking even though there are no health benefits. It’s because they don’t have to deal with the consequences right now. They come later. When they are older. When they expect to be in poor health. When it almost doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is, we all make choices in the present, pursue short term pleasures and let our older selves deal with the consequences. Cigarettes, in my opinion, fall into that category. If we deliberately sabotage the health of our older selves, how can we ask others to care for the anonymous members of the risk group? Just like I stated above, as species, and as humans we prioritise the youngest among us and the fact that we are willing to destroy our bodies from within and let our older selves deal with it, shows it perfectly.
Who do we save?
Recall the scene from “Titanic” where women and children were prioritised to take the limited number of spaces on the rafts. It makes perfect sense, if we think of humans as one big organism that grows with every child and can’t afford to lose women of childbearing age and children. The same instinct, among certain social and cultural factors, sends young men to war. It’s because even a hundred years ago, when the world population was only two billion, we could afford to lose men, but not women. Once a woman is pregnant with a man, she can’t get pregnant with another man, while a man can make multiple women pregnant. Obviously, this is not what usually happens, because we are governed by many other laws of human nature, but if you think of us as mammals, and males and females, you can see how reproduction can be a big deal for us subconsciously. We are more than animals, so I am not suggesting we sacrifice the elderly because they won’t have anymore kids. No. I am saying, if we are one big organism that wants to grow then it makes sense why we don’t care how our older selves will deal with the consequences of the choices we make today. This can also explain why we may not be willing to do certain sacrifices for the “high risk” people, who are mainly the elderly, when they are presented to us as soulless and anonymous graph or statistic. I also realize that we don’t think if these categories, but I believe there is a more powerful force at work, and it promotes certain feelings and supress others to trigger a certain behaviour. It makes us feel discomfort when we experience or are about to experience something bad for our health. It makes us feel pleasure when we do things that are good for our survival or survival of our genes, like eating or sex. It makes us love our children, so we protect them and make sure they survive. In a way, this force will trick you by making you feel different things physically or mentally, to make you do what it wants you to do. Imagine picking up a pencil and piercing it through your hand. Could you do it if you wanted to or is something stopping you?
So, how does all this relate to face masks? For some people it’s just a mask. No big deal. Others, however, are clearly against it to the point where it angers and upsets them and makes them feel anxious about trying to live a normal life again. They say the new rule is invasive and the government is overstepping by taking away their freedom. They refuse to comply and prepare for war on the 24th July.
This brings me back to the previous paragraphs where I highlighted what level of discomfort we are willing to suffer for others and how it depends on our relationship with them and the level of danger they are facing. For example, if someone were drowning, we would be willing to jump in and get our clothes wet. Would we jump in if it were a frozen lake and there was a huge possibility of not making it back to the surface? What if someone were drowning when the infection rate was at its highest? Would we jump in and save the life, or would we hesitate because of the possibility of getting coronavirus and infecting our loved ones?
You must be calling me mad for even suggesting we would hesitate for the fear of the virus. We might hesitate for other reasons, including not willing to risk our own life. Nevertheless, it is a valid comparison. When facing immediate life or death situation, we are more willing to risk our life or health, sacrifice our belongings, suspend our beliefs, and suppress biases. But we wouldn’t distribute them equally. So, we would risk getting coronavirus to save a drowning child, but we wouldn’t risk drowning to save a child from getting coronavirus. Why? Because drowning is an immediate threat and the child may or may not get the coronavirus. Same applies the other way around. If we don’t jump in, he is definitely going to die, and the risk he is infected and will infect us is unknown just as how our immune system reacts, and it is just as likely for us to be carriers.
I know, I know! Nobody is drowning. Nobody has to make that decision…
The government telling me – a healthy person to wear a mask, is like telling me how many people drown each year, therefore I shouldn’t take my family to the beach or lake. The government telling me to wear a mask is like telling smokers how many non-smokers get lung cancer as a direct result of breathing their cigarette smoke and expect them to quit. In the end, I am responsible for my children at the lake, and non-smokers have a choice of waiting outside. A parent might make a good choice to never smoke around her children, but she doesn’t need to quit to contribute to lowering the statistic and save some hypothetical lives which she may or may not affect. We don’t think we are all equal. We value life according to our relationships, unconscious and conscious biases and we make sacrifices according to that hierarchy. For some of us the mandatory face covering is too much to ask to save hypothetical people who may or may not get a virus. Especially when the data about the benefits of masks is conflicting to say the least.
“You can’t convince someone out of something he convinced himself into“
We could sit here all day and argue about COVID19. You’d tell me it’s killing people. I’d tell you, so do influenza and pneumonia. You’d quote the latest number of deaths. I’d ask, “Where did the flu deaths go?”, and tell you how hospitals around the world have been exposed for quoting COVID19 whether it was the cause of death or not. (One of my colleague’s relatives died recently after a hundred years old. They never had or tested positive for coronavirus, but the hospital classed them as COVID19 death – as if they were expecting a hundred-year-old person to live another twenty years if it weren’t for the pandemic.) You’d tell me how many experts say this is serious and I’d tell you about many other experts, who don’t get interviewed by the media, who suggest otherwise. You’d tell me I wouldn’t be saying all this if someone I love died or were on the ventilator. I’d say that personal experience or emotional blackmail are not arguments. I could say the same about cancer patients who have had their operation postponed. First time moms who haven’t received the same care they would have if access to hospitals and midwife service were normal. My wife, for example, is pregnant for the first time and just noticed something concerning on her breast. It could be nothing or it could be something serious. Before getting an appointment with the doctor, she first has to describe the problem to them on the phone so they can just disregard it as nothing to worry about and nothing worthy of a doctor’s time in these “uncertain times” when everyone could be a danger to others. English is not her first language, but only she knows how she feels and the sensation of the area she that worries her. What if she gets nervous when describing it on the phone, and her description of the problem will not be taken seriously? Since when do we self-diagnose mysterious lumps on our bodies? In other circumstances she would have it looked at right away.
So, the quote above perfectly illustrates our situation. You think you have every reason to believe that you need to be in the panic mode and live in fear until told otherwise, and I believe there is no pandemic, in a sense that the virus seems to be lethal to already seriously weakened immune systems. The defence systems are down and the virus attacks. We both look at the same data but see different information. I think I am the one with the glasses on and see the subliminal messages and you think I am crazy. I am convinced the only way for you to see the truth, is to put the glasses on, but you aren’t interested. We are both certain we hold the right position.
“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled“
The quote by Mark Twain illustrates how hard it is for people to admit they’ve been fooled (and I may be guilty of it too), even in the face of new evidence. Especially when they’ve been emotionally invested in the matter. You have spent four months trusting the government and their experts, who broke their own rules, like Neil Ferguson, the man who gave us lockdown and social distancing. You are unwilling to even think that all this has been unnecessary. Even more so, you are unwilling to let your sacrifice be all for nothing. It’s like discovering your partner cheating and lying to you after you’ve invested and sacrificed so much to be with him. The realisation that it didn’t mean anything to him is hurtful. So, you block the idea that the sacrifice you’ve made for the last five months for the greater good has been for nothing, unnecessary, unreasonable. Furthermore, you might not even be willing to accept that the government is lying to you or doesn’t know what they are doing in this crisis. Between you and me, I don’t know what’s worse, lies or incompetence. Living in denial or voluntary ignorance.
All I know is that I don’t believe the threat is real. Because of that, I don’t believe I should be required to wear a mask. I would really wear it just because you are scared, and I refuse to cover my face with your fear. Remember when we talked about what sacrifices we are willing to make for others? Well I, and many others, based on our independent research, believe it is unnecessary for us to give up our bodily autonomy and right to breathe, because someone, somewhere may or may not get sick. Even if masks worked perfectly, which they don’t, their effect can’t be witnessed in real time and it is not clear whether they have stopped the virus or if the virus has simply gone away for the Summer, as they do. We simply don’t want to let the government have the power to invade our privacy and freedoms to such extent as to mandate what to do with our faces. You, on the other hand, have come so far, haven’t you? Four months of living in fear and feeding it through your TV screen. You can’t give up now. How do you, Brits say it? In for a penny, in for a pound? Others like me refuse to join this madness and in four months wake up to a headline that says, “Research finds masks have been a waste of time”. For me and others, the evidence is not sufficient. Whether we are talking about the masks or the danger of the virus itself. So far we just have evil or incompetent government who are either executing their evil plan perfectly or are too scared to take strong initiative or unwilling to admit they were wrong to enforce lockdown in the first place. The lockdown that was enforced only because of Ferguson’s inaccurate prediction of how many would die. When he lowered his predicted number of deaths, we continued with lockdown. We continued with it even when he, himself had broken the rules and his excuse was “I thought I was immune to it because I had got it already”, which was the opposite of what the government officials had been telling us about the virus and immunity to it the whole time.
The tribes we belong to
When 9/11 happened, it brought the citizens of New York together. The crisis created a sense of belonging and meaning in the community. Both the crime rate and suicide rate dropped following the attacks. New Yorkers felt they were part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wanted to do their part even if it seemed insignificant. The Blitz made people feel the same way. People depended on each other mentally and physically. Coming together in a time of crisis is not new to our species. We evolved in small tribes for millions of years and living in big cities, often alone and away from our families (our tribes), robs us of that feeling of belonging and contributing to a community. Crisis, according to the war journalist and author of “Tribe”, Sebastian Junger, awakens our ancient instincts that helped our ancestors, who lived in tribes, to survive. Junger describes many other instances where crisis brought strangers together and points out how all men and women become equal in the face of crisis. Why can’t we come together during this pandemic and agree on a seemingly small issue like wearing a mask? I have my own theory.
It is based mainly on the fact that, in my opinion, it is almost impossible for people to relate to, let alone, care about a death toll or death rate. An anonymous graph of daily infections and weekly deaths. A death toll of a major earthquake is more relatable as it claims thousands of lives in a single day and it doesn’t discriminate based on age, race or sex. It makes all men and women equal. Maybe that’s why it’s more relatable. If the COVID19 graph is made up mostly of older people with underlying health conditions, it’s not easy to relate to it. An earthquake, however, doesn’t take hostages. The death toll might still be anonymous, but we can see the devastation, and imagine the horror of mothers looking for their children in the ruins of their homes. The COVID19 deaths aren’t, at least to people who have been against the lockdown, that scary. The fact that people don’t care too much about an anonymous graph, is supported by how we usually react to the death of a celebrity. We mourn because we have invested so much time getting to know them, watching their movies or listening to their music. We relate to them. We know their name, their face and voice. We have seen them get married, have kids or throw tantrums on live TV. The death of a celebrity is so hard to process that we even create conspiracy theories suggesting he or she is still alive somewhere or that their mysterious suicide is just a cover up for something bigger.
Final reason why COVID19 pandemic has failed to bring us together, in my opinion, is that we have spent too much time dividing ourselves. Coronavirus is so invisible and weak that it simply cannot remind us of our ancient instincts. You, me, your sister and your friend Joe, all belong to groups. We all wear many labels. We all have unconscious biases towards members or our own groups and against those in the outgroups, even if the biases are subtle. This is an evolutionary trait related to tribalism. We (our ancestors) needed to be suspicious of strangers because they could be dangerous or carry unknown disease. Something that gets developed over millions of years, doesn’t disappear overnight just because we now have skyscrapers and smartphones and don’t live in small tribes. The unconscious bias is just a tiny legacy of our ancient ancestors and their lack of trust to strangers. Research shows that while we may not always treat others differently, different areas of our brain respond to members of our group and members of the outgroup. The groups can be anything from race, accent, to political views or even star sign or shared name. Of course, we have developed other traits alongside, like empathy, being social and many others which overrun the unconscious biases in most people. The recent decade, however, has seen the rise of identity politics which divided us into Us and Them. Feminism, Black Lives Matter, the election of Donald Trump, and Brexit divide us into categories. White, black, men, women, racist, sexist, homophobic, gay, straight, and so on. Even now, during, what’s supposed to be another Spanish Flu, we have managed to divide ourselves into black and white, BLM supporters and racists. Brexit vote and the election of Boris Johnson and his delivery of Brexit, divided the UK into Leavers and Remainers. Not only are we divided, but we also view each other as enemies. How can one relate to a death toll so diverse?
Speaking of diversity. I am an immigrant. I came to the UK fourteen years ago. That’s almost half of my life. Would I die for this country? No. Do I care about the royal family? Not really. I would help my community in the time of crisis. I have a family now. Would I stay here if the country turned into an Orwellian police state or socialist Venezuela? No, I wouldn’t fight for this country. What I am saying is, that this pandemic is too weak to convince everyone to come together. Diversity isn’t our strength. When you have a multicultural society, it is harder to come together to fight a virus what has 99.96% survival rate. Whether we like it or not, we care for our own. We respond better to real victims rather than graphs. We are willing to suffer different levels of discomfort for others and the more related we are to the (potential) victims, the more discomfort we are willing to suffer. The graph below demonstrates how we measure the sacrifice against the relationship when facing an immediate threat.
You’ll have to excuse my amateur skills at making a graph, but as you can see, we would risk our own life to save or protect our loved ones but the more unrelated we are to the people who are in danger, the less we are willing to do to help them. I’ve actually seen countless videos where a fight breaks out on the train (often between a man and a woman), and the other passengers choose not to intervene. Some even remove themselves from the area. I think there is a lot of people who would sacrifice more to save their mobile phone than another human. The sacrifice isn’t always physical. If someone doesn’t believe the masks are necessary, and believe the government is overstepping by making them mandatory and threatening them with fines for disobedience, then they will not make that sacrifice for anonymous people in a graph. People who don’t want to wear masks, whether they have or haven’t looked into their risks and benefits, are already angry with the government and the police for how they have been treating all of us for the past four months. They have been treating us like children. From how often to wash our hands and what song to sing, to what to wear on our faces. Not to mention the contact tracing system which has made a lot of people question the intentions of the government. I am not going to wear a mask and I will sooner be arrested than accept a fine for it. For people like me, being unmasked is a statement. We want to be heard. For some it is just a mask, perhaps providing safety, anonymity, comfort. For others it is infringement of our freedom. It is too much to ask and maybe, if it weren’t for Trump, Brexit, Black Lives Matter, identity politics, we would have a different response and would come together. Instead the rich of this world have just got richer during the pandemic while the poorest got poorer and this alone can create rebellion against the establishment even if it comes in a form of unmasked smiling face of a free man or woman.
In the mid 1990’s, four out of a thousand American children had nut allergy. So, schools started banning nuts and everything related to nuts including foods produced alongside nuts. Some schools with less pupils might have never even had anyone allergic to nuts, but still banned them. This meant parents were instructed not to let their kids bring these foods to school. Not that school simply stopped serving them at lunch. I think it’s a little overreaction. Preventing all kids from having nuts just in case one (hypothetical) student may be allergic. This is what we have done to our economy, in my opinion. A very small percentage of cases resulted in death (almost exclusively of people in the high risk category) and we stopped the entire country and have taken baby steps to restart it and surprise, surprise, you will never be allowed to bring your metaphorical nuts to school ever again.
In the proceeding paragraphs I will attempt to argue that we should be allowed to keep our peanuts. That is our jobs, our businesses, our education, our future plans and dreams and human interaction, and we can’t or shouldn’t be forced to give them up in case someone somewhere might get a reaction. I won’t argue that lives don’t matter. Of course, they do. I will simply express my opinion why saving the economy should have been our goal given the COVID19 death rate looks a lot like the 1990’s nut allergy.
The fall of High Street
I went into my local shopping centre the other day. I bumped into a friend of mine who is a cleaner there. He is from Algeria. His nametag reads Mark, but this is just a familiar name he goes by at work. That’s also the name I know him by. We followed the arrows towards the escalator where we parted ways. During our short conversation he pinched his orange uniform with Intu Centres logo on it and disregarded it as irrelevant.
‘This uniform, we wear just for show. The company, Intu, it’s finished, gone!’, he said and explained that the Intu staff are no longer employed by Intu. He added that if nobody saves them in the next few months, the centres will get closed down. ‘I’m going back to my country, there is nothing for me here’ he said just before we headed off in separate directions.
Later that day I checked what exactly he had meant. Turned out the Intu Centres had gone into administration. The one in Watford, previously known as and still referred to as The Harlequin by the locals, had just had an enormous upgrade. They had spent a couple of years expanding, renovating and adding new retailers to their newly built space. This investment cost them a whooping £180mln and resulted in 1.4ml square ft of retail and leisure space and this was meant to be the next chapter into an exciting future of The Harlequin and Watford.
Cineworld, Hollywood Bowl and Debenhams all cut their ribbons less than 2 years ago. Debenhams spread across three huge floors and hosted numerous brands selling anything from beauty products, fashion to home. They recently announced that some of their branches would not be reopening and would get closed down permanently. Their new-born baby, the Watford branch didn’t make the cut. It will not reopen. Now, Debenhams had been in trouble before lockdown, but it looks to me like it sealed their fate. It is said the closure of their branches will cost thousands of jobs. This would include their staff, various brands which had their booths and kiosks on their shop floor, possibly warehouse staff and anyone working for other companies that do any kind of work with Debenhams. Currier companies for example might not need as many delivery drivers now that Debenhams and many other retailers closed their doors permanently.
And now Intu Watford is stuck with an empty unit that won’t be easy to fill. There already are M&S and Primark in the centre and both are spread across three and two floors, respectively. John Lewis have just announced that a number of their stores will not reopen, including the one in Watford. The store has been part of Watford town centre for thirty years and as the locals know it today, it’s spread across, I believe four enormous floors selling everything from birthday cards to furniture and big screen televisions. But John Lewis Watford is no more. The Harlequin welcomed their first customers in the early 1990’s. Their recent investment and extension were meant to rebrand the town to a new shopping destination for people in surrounding area. This dream made other businesses see Watford in a new light and it resulted in numerous cafes and restaurants introducing themselves to the people of Watford. Will the closure of Debenhams and John Lewis mean the end of Intu Watford and will it destroy other businesses who have come here searching for the big success?
With over a hundred stores, the centre provides work for thousands of people and now whether they realize it or not, they are all facing an uncertain future. I used to work at one of these stores. We had a team of less than twenty people. There are of course bigger stores with a lot more employees Boots or Sports Direct. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had close to a hundred staff members. The closure of the Harlequin could, in my opinion indirectly cause loss of jobs in other unrelated areas of economy. Take bus drivers for example. No shopping centre means less people coming to Watford, both as customers and employees. Some hard decisions will have to be made in not only in bus companies but many others. And this is just one of the shopping centres in the Intu empire.
Take Rob for example. Rob has been working for TNT curriers for fifteen years. He complains about his job sometimes, but he likes it. He likes driving his orange truck delivering pallets upon pallets of cartons filled with stock to retail shops. He likes interacting with the stockroom staff who greet him with a smile every morning. He knows every one of them by name. You never see Rob wear trousers, always shorts. “Cause when it rains, the trousers get all wet and if you wear shorts you can just dry your legs and you’re good to go.” It kind of makes sense. “Even in Winter.”. He’d never let you struggle with your delivery all by yourself. He’d always give you a hand. This job pays good enough money for him and his family of two children live comfortably and never worry about the future. Until now. Now Rob’s future at TNT is uncertain. Sure, if it comes to it, they might transfer him to another department, maybe have him do home deliveries instead, but this just means others, like Rob will lose their jobs. Or maybe it will be more cost effective in the long run to let Rob go and keep those who are on a lower wage instead? I sure hope Rob’s fate is not sealed.
Chances are, Intu Centres are not going to be saved. Who would want to invest in shopping centres right now when the government can order them to close whenever they think the risk of keeping them open is too great? Nobody will want to invest. The government can enforce a local lockdown anywhere and anytime like they have done with Leicester. What is going to happen instead, is these shops are going to close, jobs are going to be lost and the whole retail space will be abandoned, and its value is going to go down dramatically. Only then will it be bought and transformed into something different. Blocks of flats or modern apartments is my guess. Maybe Amazon warehouse? Who knows? All other retailers around will give in too and the High Street will no longer be where you go to buy clothes and trainers.
Andy is a store manager. He is in his late twenties and he has spent over ten years working his way up the retail ladder. He’s had his eyes set on becoming an area manager and he has been working hard to get there and it seemed like it would happen for him soon. The shop he has spent all his career at is facing closure because it is located inside Intu Watford. Andy picked up this shop when it was in pieces and turned it into a fun and challenging workplace for all staff. He has made sacrifices not many of us would even dream of. He has been recognized as a manager of the year and he’s always kept his eyes on the ball. Now, if retail goes extinct, what can someone, who’s spent over ten years building a career in it, do? Sure, we learn various useful skills in any job, and we can take them with us to the next one, but something tells me the job market will not look the same after coronavirus. Many businesses will fail to make profit as they adapt to the new rules and measures. Many jobs will become a thing of the past as machines become more reliable, productive and can’t get sick.
Economy is such a dirty word, baby!
Economy has become a dirty word. People who want to save it, don’t mean to sacrifice innocent lives. They understand the importance of healthy population being able to carry the economy on their shoulders, and they understand the importance of protecting the vulnerable people from the virus. Others think we shouldn’t care about the economy. When they say economy, they think about the greed of capitalism, the sins of corporations and their executives. But the economy is made of us and our jobs. And most people think their job is waiting for them on the other side but as I have shown above, the future is uncertain for all of us. Hopefully, I have made a compelling case why we should be allowed to keep our nuts (our jobs, business and livelihoods) and not have them taken away to protect hypothetical people with allergies.
The government has imposed the lockdown and has kept us on house arrest for nearly four months as if this pandemic were the next Spanish Flu, which it is not. If it were, I would be writing a completely different article. The death rate is extremely low (even though the numbers have been boosted by false death certificates and wild guesses of the medical staff), and as harsh as it may sound, the vast majority of deaths was people who died because their time had come. The elderly who survived last year’s flu season fell ill in the last few months and their weak immune system couldn’t fight it this time. Others had other serious life-threatening conditions that would have killed them in the next few months. So, the lockdown hasn’t saved lives. It has postponed some deaths while making living all about staying alive. It has taken away the fun and joy of living life to the fullest and making the most of the time we have left, which is what living should be all about, Most of us think we have many years left in our life’s calendar. Unlimited number of days, birthdays, holidays and countless hours with our loved ones. Some people don’t have that luxury and the house arrest might have kept them alive but deprived them of the very reason for being alive. I am not trying to suggest we should let the vulnerable die. I am saying we cannot cheat death and we cannot keep everyone safe forever. What I am saying is that it is more than likely the people who died in the last few months, would have died if they had caught another virus. We can all try to keep peanuts away from our vulnerable loved ones, but we can’t keep them from peanuts. At least not all the time and not indefinitely. And we definitely can’t forbid everyone from opening a bag of M&Ms just because someone may or may not have an allergic reaction. In the end we are all responsible for ourselves and no government intervention is going to make us care about hypothetical people who may or may not get sick and may or may not die from it, when our lives and lives of our immediate family are at stake. This also means providing food, protection and a sense of security.
Flu directly kills thousands if not millions of people worldwide while COVID19 seems to be just finishing the job of the underlying conditions sick people have and still managed to kill less people than seasonal Influenza. By all means, let’s try to keep our vulnerable loved ones alive. Let’s provide them with help and support they need to stay alive and to live their final years the way they see fit. The rest of us should have never been kept locked inside our homes. We should have been allowed to work and make a living while the vulnerable are protected if they so wish. If you have a loved one who is high risk then by all means, do whatever you believe is necessary to keep them healthy but in the end we are wired to care about our immediate family first and makes sure they are healthy and live with dignity. We can’t be forced to give up our nuts, the only way to feed our loved ones, because someone, somewhere might have an allergic reaction.
Economy is important. It is important for you and for me. For the healthy and the sick. If you have a job, you can buy medicine for your child. If you buy a pair of jeans, someone else will put food on their table. It is a never-ending cycle. We are all in this together. We all support each other with our purchases, but we are all individually responsible for ourselves. We can’t expect the world to stop to accommodate us. We can’t expect the system to slow down so we can catch up. We can’t expect the whole town to get shut down because grandad is sick. We need to keep going but it seems like this option is being taken away from us.
Do you agree? Do you think I am wrong to think we should have thought about the economy? Do you think High Street will survive this massive blow? Are you going to be affected by any of this? What is your plan looking ahead? Let me know
Do you ever text your friend and suggest you should get together and they say “Yeah, when things go back to normal, we should go to the pub or something!”? Do you ever scroll through your social media feed and see people making holiday plans for when things go back to normal? Do you ever visit dating sites and see people looking to date after the lockdown? I bet you have come across at least one of these people. Or maybe you are one yourself. Making plans for when we are given thumbs up to get on with our lives. What if planning and arranging your life from now on will never be the same? What if things don’t go back to normal? What if lockdown ending is not what we should be anticipating but what comes after?
Are we in control? Are we truly in control of our lives? Are we the authors of our story or are we just narrating it? Are we making the decisions or are we just choosing between the options provided for us? Maybe we are all enslaved by the algorithm that advertises careers, products, lifestyle choices and romantic partners to us and we stick to choosing between the options provided. The endless chain of choices creates the illusion of freedom while be become dependent on the state or corporations to give us what we think we want and need.
We never needed Netflix. Nobody needs Netflix. Think about it. I am sure a lot of you can relate. You want to watch a movie but now you are bombarded with choices and none of them seem to scratch that itch. You scroll through recently added and the most popular. Then you move on to comedies and then maybe you check another category only to find nothing. You’ve just spent twenty minutes deciding or rather choosing between the options provided by somebody else. More often than not, it’s too late now, you have to be up early and if you started watching something now, you’d not get enough sleep. Sometimes you might settle for something just for the sake of it. Either way, your time has been wasted and you are not satisfied. Do you think people who run Netflix, waste their time on watching movies or lose sleep to watch entire series overnight? Isn’t it ironic that the more options you have, the less happy you become? The options are almost limitless. You know you can watch a certain movie any time and unlimited number of times and yet for this very reason you are restricted. Back in the day, when I was younger, we were restricted by the number of options. We had to go to the video store and rent VHS tapes. We had less options but enjoyed more freedom. More isn’t necessarily better.
But I digress.
Do you think fast food chains are ran by unhealthy and obese CEOs or that cigarette manufacturers by heavy smokers who are on the brick of getting lung cancer? No. For the same reason why a drug dealer is not a junkie himself. They want you to buy and use their product. Time, money and health are their resources and they won’t waste them like they want you to. They need you to rely on them while their mind is clear and they continue to make money because you are willing to waste your resources – money, time and health on useless subscriptions, alcohol, cigarettes, unhealthy food, drugs, trainers and expensive clothes. You submit to their rules. They don’t live by them. I’m not saying they are all evil. I am saying that a CEO or a founder of a clothing company, doesn’t spend countless hours walking around shopping for trainers and jeans. Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t spend his days scrolling through Instagram seeing what other people are doing with their life. He has a whole team of spies to do it for him. But seriously, these people spend every waking hour trying to improve their product, their company, their life and to find ways to make more money off you. In a way they don’t care that you are wasting your money on their products or life on their platforms. Just know that they don’t. They think of more ways to get to you. To get to know you. To advertise to you. They live by different rules. They’ve earned it or sold their souls to the Devil to get there. You choose.
We have seen the proof with our own eyes as soon as shops re – opened. People queuing to buy, to browse, to consume to enslave themselves and submit to the will of the elite. This is what we have become. Defeated and braindead. Crawling through the High Street abandoning our purpose in life for a new pair of Nikes believing they will help us walk into happiness. They don’t realize that happiness is going to pass them by as they are distracted and seduced by a temporary fix. They are even willing to accept the New Normal and sacrifice their sanity by waiting for the security guy to let them in. Public toilets are now guarded too. Can’t have too many people using the facilities now, can we? The town is full of arrows and footprints that must be followed and there are people in uniforms enforcing the one-way pedestrian system which drives me mad. Police walk around enforcing it too and making sure people don’t gather in groups while shopping. I could not go through it just to get a new pair of jeans.
But the New Normal has arrived. It seems to be here to stay. Don’t make the mistake of assuming this New Reality is everyone’s reality. No. Just like the founders of Netflix don’t waste time endlessly browsing through it, the people who introduce this reality are not the ones who will live in it. Your politicians don’t go shopping. They have assistants doing it for them. I know someone who does it for a living. She works as a personal assistant of a wealthy family and up until recently she worked for an Arsenal player. She does the bills, food shopping, walking the dog and everything else in between that distracts the rich and successful from making money. Nothing wrong with that but just remember, they live in a different world and pay others to do the dirty work in the real world while they focus on their careers and expanding their wealth.
Politicians are no different. They are creating a world for us, not themselves. People think things are going back to normal, but they are not. Try going to your favourite pub when it opens. Try to get a haircut on the 4th July. Try to have a wedding or arrange a funeral. Everything that you used to take for granted is gone or changed forever. Modified to fit the New Reality. The reality of the common man and woman. While we adapt to the world with no handshakes, no affection, no singing at weddings, no socialising in pubs, the life of the elites will, for the most part, remain the same. Like I said earlier with Mark Zuckerberg. He doesn’t check his phone all the time for a new Facebook comment, Instagram like or Whatsapp message. He cares that you do. He is in business of making you waste your time seeking approval of others on his platforms. And while the world changes before your eyes, the rich, powerful and famous people will carry on as normal. Some of them might have spent the last few months on a yacht surrounded by supermodels and don’t even know that 99.99% of the world population were absolutely not affected by some Chinese virus.
I was just reminded of Dark City, a great movie I recommend everyone to watch. It tells a story of a man who finds himself in a city ran by powerful entities who rearrange the city and the lives of its citizens when they sleep. Every morning they wake up not remembering who they were the day before. They have a new family, new house, new job and don’t even know it. He discovers the truth. The entities he is up against create new reality every night. New rules that don’t affect them in any way. They execute their plan and the people of the dark city are just subjects of their experiment. Have we just woken up in The Dark City? Some of us act like we barely remember our life before the quarantine. Others act like they never want things to go back to the way they were. Yet others live in denial and think this is still only temporary. A handful of us are awake and try to take on the powerful entities who are ruling over us and are rearranging our lives with an illusion of our consent.
On the bright side though…
Football is back, isn’t it? The excitement and passion are back… well, not quite. You can’t go to a match. Are you ever going to be able to? At least the way it was before? Shoulder to shoulder with the fans of your team. Jumping, singing and celebrating together? Are you ever going to be able to go to a game without being treated like a big bag of germs? Probably not. So, this aspect of your life is gone. Sure, you might try it for a while but eventually you will get sick of it. Just like we all are of queuing everywhere and being reminded that we are all murderers if we don’t wash out hands or cover our face with a mask or a cloth (they both seem to be equally useless but while they cover your mouth, they signal your virtue). While your employment is still a big question mark, football players are back to work. Kicking the ball and getting paid millions. Not much has changed for them then. Empty stadiums are nothing new in football either. But even when fans are allowed back in (in reduced numbers to observe social distancing), most players will not notice the number of supporters and they probably won’t care what you had to go through to get to your seat. They play, you watch. They don’t queue. They play while their assistants are queuing for their groceries and after the game you will have to queue for yours.
Movie production is probably going to resume soon too. Do you think we will see the new normal there? I doubt it. Movies will remain normal and will ask for your money and won’t care how dreadful your trip to the cinema is. I realized this when I watched Dave Chapelle’s most recent stand up. It was filmed a few weeks ago in America. It was outside. He was on stage, doing exactly what he did before. The audience’s experience was different. The seats were spread. I assume they could only sit together if they arrived together and they all wore face masks. Not just any face masks. They had Chapelle logo on them but that’s beside the point. I think Dave Chapelle is a great comedian and this has nothing to do with him. The point I’m trying to make is that stand ups, musicians and other live performers will at some point resume their lives. The key word is resume because they won’t be affected by the new normal. Not that much anyway. For the past few months, they have been in their mansions with their lives paused. They’ve earned it so I’m not having a go at them. What I am saying is that soon they will all be back performing while who knows what their audience have to go through to see their shows.
The movie industry will return in the new normal too. Are we going to see social distanced Hollywood productions? Or will the movies look like nothing ever happened? While you and I walk around our High Street following arrows and avoiding eye contact with strangers, avoiding conversation and touch with them as they are all potential asymptomatic murderers spreading the deadly disease with their breath, cough and hands, the movies will continue as if there is no pandemic. The fantasy world will be here to entertain you while you live in this nightmare and walk through a maze everywhere you go. Their convincing trailers with explosions, car chases will trigger emotions in you and Hollywood stars will invite you to go to the cinema and contribute to their lavish lifestyles while your life is a living hell and you a ticking time bomb. You will pay the same price or more for your ticket as you did before you even knew you could put “social” and “distancing” together and it would make sense. In other words, your cinema experience will not be the same. You will queue, walk through a maze, queue to go to the toilet (if going to the toilet will be at all possible during a movie, given you will have to be in a close proximity with other germ carriers when leaving your seat). Saying that, going to the toilet during the show might actually be banned. What about leaving the room after the movie? Will you be able to just walk out or will everyone have to walk out in some kind of sequence. What if you have an emergency and you have to leave halfway through? Can you see what I mean? Your experience will be sabotaged while the whole movie crew gets paid and carries on as normal. They won’t care how you get to the cinema and what your experience is like. As long as you tap your card and buy that ticket. Somehow, I can’t see cinemas lowering the prices because of your inconveniences.
When things go back to normal…. What? Like going to the pub and not being able to interact with strangers? Like going to the pub and not being able to stand at the bar? Like waiting for an appointment with your hairdresser only to find out they aren’t allowed to talk to “control the virus”? Like not being able to sing at weddings or fathers being banned from walking the brides to the altar? Like having to follow arrows anywhere and being followed by people with job titles that didn’t exist a month ago? You know, those who enforce the social distancing and one-way walking system? Do you think it’s going away? When? When we’ve flattened the curve? When we’ve saved the NHS? When we’ve made sure there is not a single patient at any hospital? When we’ve protected every single elderly from dying?
I know what you’re thinking. “No singing at the weddings? Nobody is going to follow that!”, or “No small talk with your hairdresser? I’d like to see them enforce that!”. Of course, nobody will follow these stupid rules. The point is, we shouldn’t have to be intimidated into thinking that singing at a wedding is against the rules, but we will do it anyway. We shouldn’t have to question the morality of it and fear that the antiterrorists will crash our wedding or that the Thought Police will arrest you and your barber halfway through the haircut because he or she asked you if you have any holiday planned. We shouldn’t have to sneak out. So, the point isn’t breaking the rules. The point is these rules being there in the first place and the only way to have some kind of normality is breaking. Rules which again, will not apply to those making them. And in case you aren’t aware of what The New Normal has in store for us, then all of the above paragraph are genuine headlines I’ve seen in recent weeks leading up to July 4th. Another one that caught my attention read Experts say women should cut their hair short to prevent the spread of COVID19. If you’ve ever shamed anyone for not wearing a mask or not social distancing, then I wonder if you would cut your hair short or advise women in your life to do so – for humanity’s sake.
The media is trying to convince us that The New Normal is inevitable and we need to adapt. But you know what? I think the New Normal is faulty and I’d like to see the manager!
Mike Tyson is planning his return to the ring too. How exciting! He will make his millions along with organizers and promoters no matter how you experience his return. While you have to social distance yourself from everyone you love, boxers and other contact sport athletes will continue exchanging punches, sweat and blood. This kind of reminds me of The Hunger Games. Regular people lived in awful conditions while the elite enjoyed the luxuries of The Capital. This is the difference between us and the elite – the celebrities, politicians and billionaires. All of them like to tell us how we should live, they make rules and virtue signal all the time, desperately trying to stay relevant and say the right thing. All from the comfort from their mansions guarded by armed security while we have to live under the regime of their false virtue. In the movie, the difference between us and them was extreme. The Capital was glamourous while the districts were filled with hunger and poverty. Back in the real world The Capital is not a physical place. It’s a state of mind combined of the number of social media followers and big bank account status, power and influence. We, living in the District, are the consumers of their existence, subjects of their power and influence. They do not live in the world they are building for us. We have seen this during Black Lives Matter riots. Number of celebrities bailed out the looters and rioters when they got arrested and many Instagram personalities voiced their support of burning buildings, destroying livelihoods and communities in the name of BLM. It’s all fun and games when it is not your house that’s on fire. It’s all fun and games when you’re rich and famous and live hundreds of miles away. These people don’t have to live with consequences of their words and actions.
Politicians are no different. Do you really think they care if social distancing is doing more harm than good in the long run? Their kids go to private school.
When things go back to normal you will have all the fun in the world, won’t you? You will get your life back. You will get that body of your dreams. You will go for that career you’ve been dreaming about. Unless you live in Leicester. You will have to wait a few more weeks. See, the lockdown is never going to finish. It is no longer about “flattening the curve”. Now whenever the government decide, they can put a single city on a lockdown and then all your plans and dreams have to be put on hold as well. If you have a business, you will have to close again. Maybe for good this time. If you are self – employed, then you may need to consider applying for a permanent job at Tesco. In Melbourne, an entire building block has been put on a local lockdown or a house arrest. Can you see it? This is not going away.
You can forget about being spontaneous. More and more gyms and pubs are introducing booking systems which means you won’t just be able to walk into a pub or gym whenever you feel like it. You will have to book your slot and I bet that won’t be easy.
Let me leave you with this final thought.
Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be constantly told he wouldn’t be successful in Hollywood because of his accent and his size. He was told they were his disadvantages. He used them to his advantage and his accent gave us the Terminator. He also took English lessons, speech lessons, accent removal lessons and even lost some muscle mass for one of his early roles in a record time. He took control of what he could. I know. He was up against his own accent and muscles, not against billionaire elites who use their resources to put you in a Skinner box and control your behaviour. I know it’s hard to be optimistic if you don’t have a safety net, if you live alone and have bills, rent, mortgage and other things to pay. I know but maybe we can all come out of this lockdown better than when we were dragged into it. It’s not too late to give up a bad habit, start reading or listening to audiobooks, listening to podcasts, find an online course and get qualified. It may feel like we have lost control. It may feel like we never had it, but there are still aspects of our lives which we CAN control. We can control what we learn. If you don’t want to wait for your country to turn into China, learn a language and a skill that will let you live somewhere else. Let’s not wait for them to do it to us. They are all just people who’ve read books. One thing I’m going to research when I finish this post, is what part of the economy, what jobs are likely to never return or change forever in the coming months or years. I work in the fitness industry but if there is good reason to believe this sector will suffer, then I’d like to be ahead and prepare myself. I am not suggesting joining them if we can’t beat them. I am saying we should take control of what we can and continue to fight for what we believe. The New Normal is here, we need to resist and push back against it as hard as it pushes against us. Defeat is not an option, but it is a possibility we should be prepared for.
What do you think? Tell me how you are coping with the new normal. Do you need someone to talk to? You are not alone. Get in touch
Who knew that our mobile phone would be the device that would keep us safe from the big and hairy claws of the Coronavirus monster? Turns out it was that simple. All you have to do now is just download the government app and let it do its magic. And it is so simple. You can get your life back, go shopping, visit your friends and go to the beach.
All you have to do is download the app that will track your every step and warn you when you’ve been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID19. In order for this to work, you will have to be closer than 2 meters with that person for more than 15 minutes. When that happens, as it stands, you will receive a phone call ordering you, or maybe just advising you to stay home for 14 days. At the moment, the app is voluntary, but Hancock has said they won’t hesitate to make it mandatory if not enough people do the right thing and download the app.
I have a few problems with this whole idea. I am sure it was well thought of by smart and sneaky people, who after all have good intentions and our health, wellbeing and safety in mind.
As it stands to work now though, you will call your Corona consultant if you suspect you have the symptoms of this deadly disease. You will be advised to stay home and you will either be visited by your advisor or sent a test kit I believe. If you test positive you will then be called, by your friendly Contact Tracer, who will politely ask you details of your recent interactions. They will need to know people’s names, phone numbers, possibly their email or even home address. On top of that, for the safety of the public and yours, they will ask you what places you’ve visited recently. What train you’ve taken and when. The exact time you went food shopping last. They will then use the data you’ve provided to contact as many people as possible starting with the friends you’ve met and tell them to self-isolate for 14 days. I don’t know how much choice they will have but I can imagine their workplace might be contacted too and they will be told by their employer to not come in and take unpaid time off.
They are also talking about tracing our phones. Now if your phone is close to a phone of someone who has tested positive or who has been in contact with someone who has been in contact with someone who has stood in a queue to Tesco next to someone who tested positive, you will be contacted and advised to stay home for 14 days. The word advised is just a moderate way of saying ordered, really.
I have seen a few different news stories about the contact tracing and how it would work. Some say it would require everyone to download an app and it would be voluntary. Some say it would rely on Bluetooth regardless if the app is downloaded or not. There is however an even darker and scarier version of it which I will get to in a minute. If you own a smartphone and you have installed the most recent system update, you will find your phone now has an option to enable a COVID19 tracing app to work if you choose to download it. If you have an Android phone, all you have to do is go to settings/Google and you will see COVID19 exposure notifications. I assume Apple users can find it in their respective settings too. This new feature still requires an app but who knows how long this will be up to us? I read a Men’s Health article the other day that said smart watches can also pick up COVID19 symptoms. I understand that if you’re genuinely scared of getting the virus then giving up your privacy like this is a small price to pay. But we have to ask ourselves, where will this stop? How can we be sure our sensitive data won’t be shared with advertisers or worse, used against us? Maybe not now. But one day. Think about it.
First let me tell you what a trained Contact Tracer in California has to say about it. I know what you’re thinking, “California? Why would I care about it if I’m in the UK?” Well you said the same thing about the virus 4 months ago when it was in China, so let’s think clearly here because the draconian measures and freedom restrictions have followed the virus around the globe and they aren’t about to stop now. I’ll attach a link to the video so you can take a look. Some of the things she said are already making their way into our lives as we “go back to normal”. The lady in the video, who is a trained and certified Contact Tracer, says that if a person’s test comes back positive, they need to self – isolate for a minimum of 10 days. Isolation in this case means, they are not allowed to be around anyone of their household and they have to have access to their own bathroom. So, if they don’t live alone and have only one bathroom, they may be asked to go to a hotel. What happens if they refuse? Well the authorities threaten the use of force. The Contact Tracer can also request a video proof showing that the infected person has access to their own bathroom to successfully isolate in their own home. It doesn’t stop there. The Contact Tracer will also ask who this person spent time with recently and even if those people are healthy, the Contact Tracer will ask them to quarantine themselves for 14 days. She says that if the person who is self – isolating or the person who is self – quarantining has kids, and nobody to take care of them, they will come and take the kids away. Can you imagine the government overstepping that much? All this even if you’re healthy and someone sick was near you at some point. Not to mention that when you come out of the 14-day quarantine and go to a pub or a restaurant and someone has symptoms or tested positive again, guess what? You have to go into quarantine again. They will take your kids if you have them and it can go on forever. If this sounds like it would never happen or be allowed or that people would rebel against it, let’s just look back at the last 4 months and see what’s happened, what has been allowed and what people haven’t rebelled against. I mean we’ve had police patrolling parks and harassing people sitting on benches and fining couples for Netflix and chilling. Government has taken away your right to make informed choices and take your own risks and now they are also telling you to cover your face and take your right to breathe fresh air away from you and you have stickers, some traffic Marshalls and police on the High Street restricting your movement. Five or six months ago this would have sounded like something out of a sci – fi movie about a failed utopia.
You might be asking yourself how they will know what pub or restaurant you went to and when. This brings me to what is already being introduced in the UK as well. Let’s start by explaining that going to the pub is not going to be the same. You will be required to stay at your table, order drinks through an app (Wetherspoons have had an app-based table service for a while now). No more going up to the bar, dancing or flirting with members of the opposite sex. Before you even go to the pub, you will be required to register with your mobile phone number or email address and that is how they will know where you are and who with. I know what you’re saying. Maybe you will give out a fake phone number or email, or you will create a fake email address and even go as far as buying a cheap mobile phone if they send a confirmation text or something you have to present to the bouncer. But how many of your friends will do the same? What if they do tell the Contact Tracer you were there with them? What if you get caught on CCTV or tagged in somebody’s Instagram post?
Hair salons, barber shops, cinemas, maybe even supermarkets eventually, will all quite possibly adopt the same system where in order to use their services you will have to confirm your attendance with a valid phone number. If you are a member of a gym, then you can expect similar restrictions. Most gyms already have a system in place that helps them monitor who is in the gym at any given time so a Contact Tracer would just need to request details of people who attended the gym while a confirmed patient was in the building. They may not stop there at all. If you don’t want to quarantine yourself for the third time in the space of 3 months, they may not call the police on you but they can contact your employer who will then order you to stay home for 14 days and if you are seen outside or aren’t careful with your social media, you can lose your job or the time spent at home will be unpaid. I can’t be sure but if I have thought of it then I am sure they have too.
I encourage you to watch the video which can be found here https://youtu.be/9Yoa4zCeHAc where it is explained in a greater detail how dangerous contact tracing really is. Chinese citizens live under such regime on daily basis. They are under constant surveillance, spied on everywhere they go by the social credit system, which is like credit score but much more sinister. I learned about it a long time before the pandemic and already saw signs of similar things taking place in the UK, but I believed and hoped it would never get to that stage. Yet here we are. Three months into lockdown and the government is introducing a tracing system that looks a lot like the one in China. Someone commented on a link I shared to my Facebook wall a couple of months ago. He said, “We’re not turning into China”. I wanted to reply but the comment disappeared as he deleted me. If there is one thing I’ve learned from the pandemic is that there is a small step from advice to mandatory.
And even if government doesn’t find a way to make sure everyone has an app on their phone, there are other ways. Think of it like going through a gate at the airport. You don’t have to have your boarding pass on your phone. You don’t have to do everything electronically. You can print your boarding pass but how many people will choose the convenience of having all their details on their smartphone? The same thing might be done with the app. You don’t have to download it but going about your life, like going through an airport gate, will become more difficult. Cinemas, gyms or pubs will require people to prove they aren’t supposed to be self – isolating or quarantining and if they can’t, they may need to find another pub or gym. But for how long? How long before they give in?
If you have an Android phone, then you probably noticed that it’s impossible to remove Facebook app. Up until recently it was even impossible to delete your Facebook account on Facebook. Think about it. Your Samsung phone comes with Facebook as a default app and best you can do is disable it. Who’s to say that every phone from now on won’t have some COVID19 app on it and you will not be able to delete it?
Whether it will be convenient for you to have the app or if it just comes with your phone or next system update, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you won’t be able to go about your life without constantly proving your quarantine status. Maybe even police officers will have the power to look at your phone when you’re outside. Kind of like a random stop and search. This happens on daily basis to every Chinese citizen. Everywhere they go. Phone checking by the authorities multiple times a day. If you want to learn more about the Chinese social score, I suggest using your search engine, preferably different to Google, to look it up. Some people have to scan their face to be let out of their gated housing. You might think this is great technology but what if you are asked to stay at home for 2 weeks but think this is bollox and want to get on with your life, go for a run or exercise? In a system like in China, the camera controlling your gate would refuse to open it for you.
One thing that is really bugging me as I write this, is what about the old people? Old people who don’t have a smartphone? See, all this time, throughout the lockdown we have been reminded over and over again, to think about the old people and their safety. Even if our approach to the tracking and tracing doesn’t turn out to be as harsh and tyrannical as in China, the old people without smartphones will still be left out. Not only from tracking and tracing but also from participating in their social life. They won’t be notified that someone next to them on the train tested positive. They also won’t be able to enjoy a movie in the cinema without a smartphone. What about the old people then?
Unless… unless it was never about them. If it was, then we would create a system that protects them. Instead we put everyone on house arrest. Instead we create tracing system that will leave a lot of them to fend for themselves until they die. Maybe that is the whole point? They will die within the next 10 to 20 years and will be replaced with generations raised with smartphones. Let’s think about it. They created this illusion that we have to protect the elderly. They have shamed everyone who opposed the lockdown so that we can just sleepwalk into this tracking and tracing future still believing we are helping. But I ask, how does this system help older people or people without smartphones in general? If they aren’t able to confirm they aren’t ill or ordered to self – isolate, they won’t be allowed to go to the cinema, a restaurant, maybe even hospital or get an uber, definitely not on the plane, but who cares, right? They will die soon and their old brick mobile phones along with them. Their fragile final years on this planet have been weaponized against us and taken away from them at the same time. Maybe protecting them was never the plan. After all they already suffer from other illnesses and life-threatening health conditions and haven’t been able to get any appointments throughout this lockdown. Some of them didn’t even want to see their doctors because they were scared of catching the virus or they didn’t want to be an inconvenience for the busy medical staff.
The way I see the tracking system is this. It relies on people having smartphones or being accurate and honest about places they’ve been and people they’ve seen. What if a husband or wife visit their lovers? They may not be willing to share that information but if it’s not up to them, they will get caught. Cheating might be immoral but it’s not illegal but a Contact Tracer has the power to end marriages or perhaps in the future even blackmail unfaithful spouses into giving up the details of their recent contacts while promising confidentiality. It may not even be a Contact Tracer anymore. Some other company might get hold of that sensitive information too. Unfaithful partners aside, it looks to me like this tracking system is designed to control the population and not isolate people who are sick. Old people without smartphones will not have the app and will be left to die and live the rest of their days in fear of others. Their children and grand children will reduce visits to keep them alive without realising that staying alive is not living. While the people who contribute the least to the society, slowly die off of old age, neglected cancers and other diseases, loneliness and depression, the young and healthy workforce will remain under constant surveillance. Their privacy taken away along with their freedom of movement and right to take risk. All that will be taken while they are distracted by the illusion of having a choice. And this is only a beginning.