Lockdown. We’re all in it together. I think. Everyone’s lives will be forever changed by events that are out of their control, for better or for worse. Everyone has their own story of hardship, sacrifice and personal loss that lockdown has wrought upon their lives.
Some people will deal with the fear, uncertainty and sacrifice with respect for others and the human condition.
Others, let’s not kid ourselves here, will take these conditions and use them to serve themselves. Hypocrisy and selfishness do not take a holiday in times of hardship but we somehow expect people to behave well. Honourably. And we are frustrated and disappointed when they don’t.
A very public example of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ by the UK government and its advisors has proved again that a personal assumption of your own superiority can be enough to bulldoze your way through any criticism, ignoring public opinion as a wake of destruction takes down everyone apart from you. Collateral damage is unfortunate but hey, that’s politics.
We all know people who don’t play by the rules in normal life so why were we expecting different behaviour under lockdown? And I’m not just talking about press stories of ridiculous ‘essential’ journeys to buy bread, or look at the sea, or street parties shut down by the police. I’m not even talking about the people who have done their own ‘research’ and concluded that the whole thing is a government scam to control us. Or people who feel their civil rights are being violated so won’t comply.
I’m talking about the person that has their vulnerable (government definition), 70+ parent who should be shielding, visit regularly on the basis that they are alone and therefore vulnerable (their definition). Ignoring the concepts of shielding, not mixing households, undertaking non-essential journeys, and so on, utterly oblivious to the irony. And prepared to bet their parent’s life on knowing better.
The person whose partner is back and forth (non-essential journeys, mixing households, etc) because they need them to walk the dog and they want to see their partner. Who would forgo seeing their partner or waste the one-hour-of-exercise-rule they’re not following anyway on walking the dog! Those rules are for people who already live together and don’t mind not going out.
The person who has exhibited symptoms and has been sent home to self-isolate but decides it’s not worth bothering with for them and their family because they obviously know they don’t actually have COVID-19. Self-isolation is for people who might really have the virus.
The people who think that one person from one household being allowed to meet with one person from another in a public outside place actually means that as long as you take as many people round to your friend’s garden as there are already in your friend’s household, that’s all good. Which will make the new 6 people rule interesting. I’m not going to do the maths but I know 36 would come up in a multiple choice answer and I’m guessing that. Yay, party time!
The person that drives a 60 mile round trip with their family to test their eyesight. Non-essential journey, anyone? You just need an implausible excuse.
We all know people like this.
So why is it so frustrating, so upsetting and so annoying to others that they behave like this? Why do we even care? Partly because it’s not just themselves they are putting at risk. Partly because it’s not ‘fair’. I obviously care enough to have written a post about it. I wish I didn’t.
A psychologist would say that we can’t change other people’s behaviour, we can only change our response to it. Easier said than done? In my experience, yes. But I’m working on it.
These people are unlikely to recognise themselves. They will justify their actions with personal circumstances, instinct and anything else they can think of. If challenged, as we have seen, absolute self-belief coupled with no self-awareness allows them to trample all over reality and common sense. And clapping for the NHS absolves all sins.
So, as we move into the next phase of easing lockdown, it’s easy to become disillusioned with following the rules. The media is full of over-run beaches and parks, parties and gatherings. We can’t change other people’s behaviour but we can’t let them change ours either.
It doesn’t matter who made the rules, it matters why they were made. If we want to avoid a second spike it makes sense to social distance and minimise contact to avoid both catching COVID-19 and passing it on. Listen to the scientists.
Live knowing you are protecting the lives of yourself, your family and others: you can’t change other people’s behaviour, only your response to it. Writing about it has helped me, find something that helps you. It’s not fair, but life’s not fair either.