Mocking Coronamania

Having, over the past 20 months, not seen many people they used to see, I wonder if people are experiencing, or will soon experience, a Rip Van Winkle Reaction to the rediscovery of various extended family members, friends and activities. It’s as if we’ve been socially/experientially asleep during the Scamdemic, and will find it disorienting to have lost a 20+ month slice of normal life. Those you haven’t seen for that long will look different: older and perhaps heavier. So will you and I.

Yesterday, along with a smiling, unmasked photo someone had taken of me at my outdoor workplace that morning, I sent an e-mail to about 40 people I know, many of whom I haven’t seen in the past two years because they live in Covid terror:

For those who haven’t seen me in two+ years and might pass me on the sidewalk and not recognize me.  Sorry for removing my mask.  I put it back on right after the photo, I swear!  And if my arm looks swollen, it’s from my third shot.  

World is a man-made mess, but a sunny, cool morning spent working with people I like.  Two functioning legs, arms and hands. Nothing hurts.

Thanks be to God. 

I hope you are happy.

Only five recipients replied, each congenially. I guess that means that many of the other 35 didn’t like my message.

This doesn’t surprise me. I know sarcasm doesn’t play well; I seldom employ it. But Coronamania has been so absurd that it warrants, invites, and even requires, satire. I don’t worry about alienating some people. The Scamdemic has been the kind of experience during which you learn about others’ character, mental health and critical thinking ability. You weed your garden. You plant new seeds.

And truthfully, I was just messing with some of that message’s recipients.  I wanted some addressees to dislike my message.

During Coronamania, many people have validated and internalized others’ Covid fear level, because doing so is seen as “empathetic” and “nice.” Some have told me they’re deliberately accommodating others’ fear. Others may be doing so reflexively. I’m reminded of the Woody Allen movie, Zelig, in which the title character pathologically takes on the personalities of those around him in order to fit in and gain acceptance.

In sports, coaches or commentators sometimes sometimes say a team is “playing down to another team’s level,” i.e., playing poorly and out of synch because that’s what their opponent is doing. Should everyday people dysfunctionally descend into the viral fear abyss of those around them? Empathy isn’t always good; it can be misplaced and damaging. Acting as if Covid fear is rational enables more fear among the fearful. It’s the adult version of affirming that maybe there is a monster under your bed. It’s like buying beer for an alcoholic friend.

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