Every day in the UK, being in any way politically savvy becomes more and more mentally exhausting. Bottom drawer pundits from Farage to Hartley-Brewer or McKeith or Melville bombard social media- or, often, the airwaves- with their self involved, “me first, but I’m also a patriot” backwards mindsets much to the frustration of those of us who count ourselves among, if not the decent, at least those with humanity.
In the last week, as restrictions were debated and finally brought back, I’ve seen an uptick in the relentless, background hum of online abuse from anti…whatever’s. Anti lockdowners? Anti maskers? Anti vaxxers? They’re not all the same but they all share disturbing common threads.
It’s pointless to point the finger at people with this mentality and try to speak to their compassion for others- it quite literally isn’t there. Today I had the misfortune to discuss this with an anti masker- who happily explained that she thinks that “if it’s your time, it’s your time and nothing will change that”. That’s her justification for not wearing a mask- an indelible belief in fate.
I posed the retort that perhaps it wasn’t someone’s time, but her not wearing a mask made it so- that her negligence could lead to someone else’s death. She mumbled incomprehensibly and went back to doing what she was doing. I suspect it hasn’t changed a thing in her mind- she’s decided that she can wander through life as the arbiter of other people’s fate, and that she’s not responsible for her own actions- some other force in the universe is.
What a stupid, ridiculous point of view. Slight inconvenience for you could mean the difference between Christmas dinner at 4pm or a nurse shoving a plastic tube into your airway to try and stop you from drowning in pleural fluid.
And now here comes a new variant, a variant which threatens Christmas apparently. “It’s not Boris’ fault” scream the usual cabinet of buffoons, correctly of course- Johnson didn’t create or even wilfully import the variant. But we’d be in a better position to face it (if it truly is more virulent or transmissible) than we are, were it not for his flat refusal to have done even a minimal amount of work to combat everything that came before it.
I’ve seen countless numb minded pundits like the above cadre of idiots talk about their civil liberties, their RIGHT to be unimpeded. I have a question for them:
Do you think I give a shit about your civil liberties if they run the risk of killing my dad?
Do you think I’ll lose a second of sleep over whether Julia feels uncomfortable in a mask, whether James Melville felt unwell for 3 days from his vaccine, if those things led to me still having one parent left? Why is you feeling a bit uncomfortable because of a scrap of cotton needs to come forefront in the spread of an illness? I’m not linking their social media- it’s a wasteland of stupid, angry, reactive takes about how they’re unbothered by the plight of anyone that doesn’t happen to be them, and to drop my amateur blogger spiel for a moment- fuck those monsters.
Scrap the worst case scenario arguments of death or long term disability, are you actually telling people it’s fair for them to run the risk of being sick with something that ranges from feeling generally unwell to being extremely poorly- as I was- for weeks, because you feel irritated by material? How laughably self involved do you have to be to think that’s a fair trade off?
I also got told by someone else recently that because it was just like a bad cold for them they don’t see the need to worry. Do you want to know what covid was like for me? My stomach wouldn’t digest food. I was so exhausted I panted going from the bed to the sofa. It felt like my chest had hooks inside, stopping me from taking a full breath, as if my chest wouldn’t expand as far as I knew it should, could. My temperature spiked over and over and over again. I couldn’t sleep. I coughed until i threw up on myself. You’re telling people it’s fair for them to go through that or worse, because you’re so self involved you think it’s a right to show your face to strangers.
Equally these arguments also come from people paid to be hypocritical. The worst pundit for this nonsense is Julia Hartley-Brewer- a poisonous oaf whose opinion could be bought for a steal, provided it’s rancorous and knee jerk enough. Brewer protests that the virus that’s killed 160k people, made millions long term sick and made still more extremely unwell is merely an inconvenience to her as she talks about how trans women will take away women’s rights whilst also admonishing a female MP for speaking out about the frustrations of finding childcare- over the course of days- on her public forum. The fact we have so many of these pundits ready to act like voices of authority is half the reason the UK is so deranged. Critical thinking is long dead, and long live the era of listening to the ill informed speak confidently and completely incorrectly.
At this point we’re not fighting a virus- it’s embedded itself into a world weary from safeguarding and will be around for years, decades and perhaps forever- I don’t know. We’re fighting the ever rising tide of selfishness and ignorance that pervades a society that allows people to speak such ridiculous disinformation. From grand plots about a societal mass murder scheme, to oppression and slavery to the madness of nanobots reprogramming our DNA (for what! There’s never an answer when you ask!) people with foolish ideas are platformed, exalted and respected and experts who dedicate decades of their life to this EXACT SITUATION are sent death threats for speaking out.
Look at it on a different front. After the horrific drowning of 27 people at sea only a week ago, RNLI have released confirmation that one of their boats was prevented from going to a distress call by fishing boats. Imagine a desperate exhausting journey away from a regime who took over your country, that took all of your money away that took weeks and ends with your boat sinking and you drown at sea because right wing fishermen take issue with you not drowning in the ocean. If you can look at me and tell me these people are not bottomless scum then you’re either deluded or a good liar.
The issue of course is what we DO about it. There’s a lot of division amongst people which doesn’t help with anything, but equally nothing which would affect us touches these people. Calling people from Brewer to Lawrence Fox out on their idiocy rolls off them like water off the proverbial duck’s back. Trying to appeal to their humanity results in, at best indifference and at worst a gang of ardent followers attacking you. So what do we do? Of course we can coexist with people whose views differ from our own, that’s fine- but look at the ideologies we’re aligned against: people eagerly demonising trans women, people who actively demonise gay men and women and bisexuals as perverts and paedophiles, people who think that islam is coming to swarm Britain, that migrants are a bigger threat than authoritarian politicians who are stripping back everything from free movement to protesting and narrowing our options for goods to fill shelves, decimating our economy and ultimately the lurking threat of people who believe, in their heart and soul, that their right to show their face in public is more vital and core than your health.
Trying to cope in a nation of people who believe that if they don’t experience it, it doesn’t happen is one of the most demoralising things I’ve experienced- it’s been a life long lesson for me. I’ve had people tell me I don’t experience homophobia from heterosexual men, for example. It’s pretty simple to understand why two men being asked questions like “who is the woman” is annoying, not to mention misogynistic, or why people who assume they have the right to ask you about what position you are in bed when this isn’t information you really want to volunteer is ok. It’s quite straightforward to understand that people who call you a kiddy fiddler because you’re gay are scum, that people who threaten to punch you because you think pecs are sexually attractive and breasts aren’t are stupid. We have to share the world with these people – how long are we meant to peaceably explain that we just ARE and we don’t have to justify ourselves. Our existence, who we think is sexy, who we kiss, who we fuck- these aren’t things that affect you, and they don’t affect others negatively- and yet we’re told that us existing is a bridge too far.
And the irony is that it’s TIRING to be the people who are trying to move things forward, past this virus. We do what we’re told by scientists who have tested to confirm the efficacy of masks, of vaccines, of simple social distancing so we do it- then we’re thwarted by the very people who say they shouldn’t have to bear any of it for a single minute. “What about my mental health” is the usual cry, from people who I’ve openly seen sneering at those whose relatives died alone in ICU beds. And led, countenanced and babied the entire time, whether they like him or not, these people are overseen by a populist weakling of a prime minister, Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson, a man pathologically incapable of actually instilling some iron into the spines of people so pampered by their lives thus far that they think covering their mouth and nose to pick up 40 teabags is tantamount to a spell in Guantanamo bay.
Johnson again dropped the ball today (what’s that, ball 2743928490372?) when he refused to say it would be foolish to hold large gatherings at Christmas. “We’ll do it anyway!” sneer the idiots, as if their actions are bravery – not being able to adjust to any situation doesn’t mean you’re brave, it means you’re stupid.
And above it all, how often do you see people like I did today, strutting around a supermarket maskless and sneering as if they deserve applause for their decision to bare arms in the war against covid- they, of course, fighting on the virus’ side. Do you think you look brave, or strong, or smarter than the rest of us? I’ll forget about you after 5 minutes- you mean nothing to me. Your actions both frustrate me and make me laugh, because the height of bravery for these people is to show their chins waggling in the wind generated by the refrigerated sections of a supermarket.
True bravery is doing the things you don’t want to. Going without the support of your loved ones, wearing the uncomfortable thing for the sake of safety, and sharing space with people who gleefully share memes about how doing the bare minimum to stop a contagion from overwhelming hospitals and derailing everything from plastic surgery to cancer treatment is “pathetic”.
Me and my friends have, all this time, held the line of blaming the government for their shambolic messaging, which is true, their contrary advice, which is true, their lacklustre and delayed responses over and over, which is true- and their cavalier attitude towards throwing out the restrictions to please the noisy and the stupid.
The government bear a huge, personal amount of responsibility for this- but in a country where people who act like the worst facets of society are disturbingly common, it’s well past time the people responsible for this childish, weak and frankly pathetic behaviour bear their responsibility- you did this. You got us where we are. You’ve trapped us in this eternal state of open lockdown with the threat of virus or lockdown or more. You think I care about your personal liberties when you won’t even do the bare minimum to safeguard mine? Think again.
I suppose the ultimate question posed has to be: when do we say “enough” and take our society back from the loud, gruff and cowardly minority who has amassed support behind a spineless populist and his scum enabling cabinet? What will be the fulcrum upon which our patience turns- and what will be the igniting incident that forces us to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and lay down a siege on the cowardice of a populace whose lack of consideration has grown from a thorn in our side to a wound that bleeds us, day by day, into sheer exhausted capitulation?