Getting Past Normal

Everyone keeps saying they just want things to go back to normal.

I want to get past normal.

I’m no longer scared of this virus, and you shouldn’t be either. It’s not March of 2020 anymore. We know more now than we did a year ago. Take Vitamin D, go outside more often, be a regular healthy person, exercise regulary and maintain a good quality diet of whole foods and limited alchohol or tobacco. Get a vaccine if you want to. Or don’t if you you’re not comfortable. No one should force you or shame if you don’t. You don’t have to wear two masks or a face shield or sanitary gloves.

We’ll all be ok.

Is it serious for some? Of course. We want to make sure our family members who are over 65 or have pre-exisiting conditions are safe, but we need to go back to living our lives and we need to stop letting people tell us what is safe and what isn’t. If a business wants us to wear a mask when we’re inside, no problem.

The virus isn’t going away. We can all get vaccinated, but the virus will always be there in some way just like the flu. The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve sensed a dangerous level of oversight and intrusion into our daily lives. We cannot let the government, Big Tech or corporate entities continue to dictate how we live our lives in the sake of “protecting us.” That is essentially the power we have given them without our consent over the last year. The news is spreading fear porn about the virus, our country, your political opponents, global warming and shootings . Stop watching it. Here’s the sparknotes version of the news — “It’s all bad and the world is going to shit. Back to Tom with the weather.

I prefer being optimistic. Things are getting better. The year 2021 is the best time to be alive, no question about it. Live your life and take advantage of the world we have available to us. The last year gave us all a chance to reflect on what’s important in our live and who we value the most.

We’re all going to die at some point (so much for the optimism, Kyle…). But it’s true. Let’s face that fact and take a deep breath. We need the freedom to make our own choices and evaluate risk. I think a large reason for the political divide of lockdowns vs. opening up has to do with how each individual evaluates risk. Making tough decisions involves risk. There’s risk I could get hit by a car today, but that’s not going to keep me from crossing the street. The risk of us getting COVID or spreading it is much less likely now than it was a year ago and we have much more information on what is doable and what it not. Let’s evaluate the risks of getting past normal.

So many of the decisions in the last year were laid on the premise that politicians, Big Tech, and corporations have our best interest at heart, which is of course, ridiculous on its face. I’m worried that the rules and restrictions that have become so normal in the last year will fail to be rolled back properly. First it was wearing masks. Then, it was don’t wear masks. Actually, scratch that. Masks are good now! Then, it was social distancing. Don’t shake hands. Don’t hug. Keep your business closed, you’re not essential! Don’t go to work, it’s dangerous. No large gatherings or holiday celebrations. If you want to come to this establishment you need to be tested. We need to check your temperature. You have to wear gloves and always wash your hands! Actually wear two masks now. No three! Trust the science.

In the last year, the government has told us whether or not we can work. They’ve decided who is essential and who is not. They have decided when we can go out to eat with our families and friends. The government has told us how and when we are allowed to travel. No one ever cared who their governor was before all of this. Chad Felix Greene (@chadfelixg) tweeted last week that we are now witnessing these people tell us, “You need to understand what’s best for you, best for everyone. You’ll get used to it. You don’t need a choice, it’s been decided by experts. Stop being selfish and embrace progress and a more equitable future.”

I understand, of course, that all of these actions were taken to protect the population and to reduce the spread. I get that. But this has been going on for over a year now, and there are still assinine decisions being made that are affecting our lives in ways we’ve never had to worry about before. Each of these steps were (debateably) necessary at the time and no one really knew what they were doing or how to handle it. That’s fair. But now we do! The state of Texas opened up their state to 100% and repealed the requirement to wear masks like six weeks ago. Has anyone heard any bad news coming out of Texas lately? Any catosprophic death tolls? Trust that people can be smart and responsible with more freedom to make their own decisions. The more you try to force behavior, the worse the outcome. Always.

We know 20x more about this virus than we did when these government regulations were made. Don’t you see how each little step we took in complying didn’t seem like a big deal at the time? But as we keep getting pushed further and further to change our patterns, things won’t have a chance to turn back around. “Stop being selfish and trust the science. We know what’s best for you.” It all starts to feel very authoritarian.

And to be clear, there’s a big difference between not complying based on your political beliefs vs. simply seeing the danger in giving more power to the government and Big Tech.

When will these regulations get rolled back? Who is enforcing all of this? Is anyone checking that we still even need to do any of these things? What happens when another virus comes around in a few years? Do we get better or worse?

I don’t want this to come off like, “The government is trying to control us, maaaann.” I’m simply warning of the potential side effects of letting these mandates disguised as guidelines go too far. I’m not talking about our “freedom” in the flag-waving, truck driving, bald eagle sense. I’m talking about your regular liberties afforded to you by living in this country. Those same people shouting “America sucks!” have no idea what “freedom” looks like outside the U.S. The idea of liberalism used to be about ultimate freedom and expression – freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of ideas. That’s what makes this country great. Not our rankings in education, infrastructure, or healthcare. While we could use some obvious improvements in those categories, it’s the liberty afforded to each individual that makes living in the United States of America the best. Don’t take it for granted. More and more, liberalism is becoming the exact opposite of the ideals it was founded on. It is leaning towards authoritarianism – Say this. Do that. Obey.

The latest idea is having to carry around a vaccine passport to be allowed entry into certain venues or airlines. That is scary. I don’t care what your political stance is, the idea of a vaccine passport should cause concern across all political viewpoints. Instead of mandating the vaccine outright, the government is going to rely on manufacturing consent using social pressure and private companies. As writer Bridget Phetasy says in her great Spectator piece, “It’s shady. It’s creepy. And we’re just supposed to say, “Thank you, Daddy.”

We’ll likely have to show some form of a negative test or vaccination proof in large gatherings. I’m ok with that in the short term. I want to have a wedding, after all. But a vaccine passport should be a cause of worry. Not so much for the Stalinistic aspects but for the sake of controlling our data and privacy. Remember how we thought sharing every detail of our personal lives on Facebook was harmless? Just watch The Social Dilemma. All of our information has been spilled all over the internet by some of the most “secure” companies online. Do you trust your medical data will remain secure? When that information is being used by institutions to determine where you can or cannot go (which it will be), there’s a 100% chance that it will be exploited and used against us without our consent.

Thinking of any of these arguments in terms of conservative or liberal, left or right, etc. is not an accurate way to understand the current cultural moment. “A far more accurate lens,” philosopher Peter Boghossian writes, “is cognitive liberty: those who demand you think a certain way are on one side while those who do not are on the other”

One of the funnier comments on the hypocrisy of corporate COVID policy I heard was from Vice reporter Hamilton Morris. He pointed out how airlines have been kicking people off for refusing to wear a mask on flights. Yet, the flight attendants are still handing out snacks to all passengers, meaning there is literally a point in which nearly every person on board HAS THEIR MASK OFF. And this is enacted policy by that same airline that is kicking people off for not wearing masks

Again, I understand. No one really knows how to handle this. It’s confusing. But wrap your brain around how ridiculous of a world we’re living in. Do you ever feel like you’re taking crazy pills? I wouldn’t know how to handle most of this stuff either, but too much of it is just failing to follow common sense.

If you’re a healthy person under 40, what reason is there not to continue life as normal as possible? You’re free to wear a mask if you don’t feel comfortable. You’re free to get one of the multiple vaccines. You’re free to remain six feet from me (in fact, I’d prefer that). This virus has overwhelmingly effected only those who were already unhealthy, over 65, or had a severe Vitamin D difficiency.

If you don’t want to get the vaccine, that’s your choice! Who am I to judge someone who doesn’t want to put something in their body that has only been tested for a year and has inconclusive long-term side affects. I’m willing to be a guinea pig for it, but you all have to understand that we’re all guinea pigs in some sense by getting the vaccine. Stop posting your vaccine selfies, acting holier-than-thou and subtly shaming people for not complying. It’s their right, as it should be. And even if you disagree with their decision, you should fight for their right to have that freedom of choice. Let’s get past this normal and be better for what we’ve learned as a consequence of this ugly virus.

*I want to mention I have done no research on this.

KB

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