Instagram feels very different today. All the local businesses we follow are on the same page, the concern is real, we are listening intently to reassuring affirmations in the face of instability – Kelowna I dare say, appears down with solidarity. Small local businesses need your support: accounts for gyms, bars, grooming services, busy coffee shops, are begging for you to tag in and help the team – if you’re healthy come in, have a life! business as usual, no worries just wash your hands we will get through this together.
While it is great to see collective action forming, it certainly is a shame that it has nothing to do with the common good and much more resembles the consensus opinion that private individual actions will come together to make life better, not those that take the entire community into account. Even in a health crisis, self-interested rogue actions that don’t believe the hype are to be promoted, rather than thinking of the common good. This is a cult, maybe a death cult, of individualism.
Social distancing flattens the curve and stops the spread. It’s the only prevention tool we have and it requires real solidarity not disengenuous #supportlocal hashtagsThis is their pitch: young healthy people are safe to carry on as normal and live that life to its fullest and support the community by shopping in, and creating busy spaces. Never mind that they will come in contact with many others from other regions completely unscreened at borders and airports, all perfectly healthy and good at masking symptoms for up to 2 weeks – and perfectly good at spreading it to the vulnerable too. Never mind that Kelowna just might have one of the biggest percentages per capita of vulnerable given the size of the retirement community here. But whatever, I got mine. Fuck the rest. Big antivaxxer energy here.
So while the PM declared yesterday that Canada has the financial ability to ensure businesses and employees will be financially supported during this crisis, that basically, this is what the society is for, a social net to offset massive public crises and instability – the libertarian Ktown lifestyle hawkers don’t care. They’ll surely take the public support even though they eschewed the protocol of social responsibility: socially distancing ourselves flattens the curve and stops the spread. It’s the only prevention tool we have and it requires real solidarity not disengenuous #supportlocal hashtags.
Sadly though, we see Trump, sans doctors or epidemiologists, finally updating the nation on Covid-19, telling all to trust his lying ass along with those of Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Target and other corporate CEOs that they are on the case! The message being that those whose sole purpose is research and scientific advancement in the public good matter far far less, than those whose purpose is private profit (some of these companies don’t even invest in their employees health at all). Also missing, anyone who represented the fair allocation of services to deal with the sick, as well as anyone to speak to the economic fallout on affected workers and business owners. While those necessary actors represent the commonwealth, the public good, the state, it’s not a good look for the cult of individualism.
We are so beyond believing in society as the force that holds us together, and its embodiment in public non-commercial institutions, that even public health crises are ignored or exploited. When a pandemic hits, we have no glue, no moral centre, chaos and self-interest set in as knee jerks to hopelessness and lack of control. Fully Jokerfied. It is truly believed that individual expression and empty calls to freedom will fix this, and that we can spend and support our way through a crisis as if our agency and spending power will brute force us through rather than our social duty and deference to qualified scientific experts to make sure we don’t worsen a pandemic.
I have to admit, “we *could* save millions of lives by isolating, but that would make us cowards who don’t value freedom, so we shouldn’t” is not a take I expected from any self-styled Leftist. It sounds like the crudest, neanderthalic right-wing rhetoric. https://t.co/9H2hA3MfBU— Sturgeon’s Law (@Sturgeons_Law) March 14, 2020
Let’s check in on that: on Vancouver Craigslist, hoarders were selling toilet paper and hand sanitizer at inflated prices after buying as many as Costco would let them. The problem not so much the opportunists’ behaviour, but the system and institutions that groomed it – why would Costco not ration sales of this? Ditto the toilet paper that just started being rationed at Kelowna Costco long after the hoarders basically emptied the shelves over and over. Quite simply because those are the rules. At the end of the day social responsibility cannot coexist neatly with the profit motive. A system that holds individual private gain as core, is fundamentally at odds with supporting the common good when it needs to be paramount – the common good is always, must be, a by-product (albeit a nice warm fuzzies selling feature) of the private enterprise system.
On Kelowna Instagram, the small biz brigade has their filters and hashtags focussed and ready to win the PR war on social responsibility. Flexing their all-natural sanitizers, the health benefits of their products, or of just plain Yaaaassssing in the face of Big Hater Cancel Culture, they plead with us to support local and crowded germy businesses.
Over and over, the refrain is “If you’re healthy it’s no problem, Dr. Bonnie Henry says to go out and enjoy life” – never mind that Washington state is a Covid-19 hotspot and Vancouver is starting to pop off as well. Never mind that the exponential growth curves are the same everywhere unless we learn from places where social distancing has worked to mitigate it prior to its potential peak like in South Korea. But most of all never mind that they are omitting that Dr. Henry also said “WE MUST ALL, AT THIS TIME, STEP UP OUR SOCIAL DISTANCING”.
I wonder why those in my town who think that by doing business as usual (with hand soap!) like the OKGN Angel Summit, a large cross-regional networking event, and those saying the healthy and young aren’t at risk of suffering (but are at risk of transmitting the virus to the elderly and those with health issues) aren’t more like the tech workers from Washington who I spoke to. These young asymptomatic guys cancelled on the OKGN Summit because they could not in good conscience leave their area and potentially expose Kelowna to the virus. Epidemiologists have estimated that the incubation period is about 5 days and is contagious, as is the time an asymptomatic healthy Covid-19 carrier is out there hot yoga-ing, St Paddy’s Day drinking-hugging-touching, working out, convention-networking, grooming, face-touching, joint-sharing, touch-screening etc this weekend.
BREAKING: Guy who insists you only live once uses that one life to spread Covid-19 to other, more vulnerable people— Walking Eagle News (@TheEagleist) March 14, 2020
When Insta replies that question the social responsibility of businesses promoting crowded group activities get deleted without explanation (as was the case more than once, with someone I talked to), and local influencer Jillian Harris (follower count 1M+) is blasting out stories that tie Covid 19 to meat farming now that she is a recent convert/shill for vegan products, you have to wonder how genuine all the yaaas is.
If you’re reading this and you’re like “Total Hysteria”, “Fear Monger”, I mean that’s understandable, it’s natural to try to overcome fear and yes panic-spinning does suck, but that’s because it’s most always used for cynical self-serving reasons like sensationalist profit-driven media, or right wing demagoguery. So you have to ask yourself, who gains from trying to get people to stay away from crowds so we can flatten the curve and stop the spread of a pandemic? Clearly the only real answer is the public’s health. In this context, pulling the fear mongering card is just a stance to justify your own reckless self-regard and not care that you are weakening the community’s defense system. This collection of business boosters is not at all about solidarity and coming together to stave off a crisis: it’s a cult of individualism, a cheap substitute.
If you’re actively promoting ways to avoid social distancing and couching it in “supporting local”, just stop. You can’t just pick and choose from the community chest whenever it’s convenient for you. We must act together to stop the spread of Covid-19. Then we can talk authentically about social connection.
Note: You can still support small businesses without working against the common good. As a consumer you can buy gift certificates. And as a business, maybe providing some ongoing services at reduced rates or for free, freeing your valued local clients up for their immediate expenses (do you really need that monthly maintenance fee? think of it as money you might have spent on other customer retention or acquisition: good news travels fast!). Keep in mind that there will be financial relief from the federal government so if you can alleviate a partner’s immediate expenses that might go a long way.