Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Am I so wrong to blame young people for the continued spread of COVID-19?

Apparently, I am supposed to not blame the happy-go-lucky young things who gathered in their thousands at Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park and elsewhere this weekend, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring any social distancing protocols they may or may not have heard about. (Presumably the same applies to recent pool parties in Lake of the Ozarks and Houston). Apparently, instead, I am supposed to blame city and provincial officials for not making the message clear enough.
This seems ridiculous to me. Signage and warnings are everywhere, on the streets, on the TV, on the internet. Any millennial unaware of what they are supposed to be doing must be living in an alternative reality or possibly doing way too much weed. No, these people are doing what they are doing with eyes open, either through a misplaced sense of youthful invulnerablity or just an ignorant don't-care-don't-bother-me attitude. Not placing the blame where it logically belongs - i.e. with the very people who are flouting the rules - is to deny them agency, and to shoot the messenger.
And notice that I say, publicly, "millennials". I know I am not supposed to say that either, because they are apparently all stressed out, and regularly find themselves the butt of off-colour jokes about fecklessness, privilege and entitlement. Many people (from Donald Trump to the World Health Organization) have laid the blame for the early spread of the virus on millennials as a convenient scapegoat, not all of it with good evidence.
But - anecdotally, and based on my own entirely unscientific study - I have to report that I find that about 90% of the social distancing transgressors in recent days just happen to be under the age of about 30, 35. So, millennials and Gen Zers.
Millennials, for their part, are blaming Gen Z (the under-23s) for being the unthinking irresponsible party animals, and I take the point that they too are definitely out there arm in arm, hanging out in large (probably virus-ridden) groups. Some of the interviews with these young folks are downright scary, and what I have seen of their behaviour here on our beach confirms - again anecdotally -  that, on balance, Gen Z is probably significantly worse than the Millennials. But Millennials are definitely also culpable, and they are older and supposedly wiser, no?
It's hard for an old fogey like me to rationalize it all. I guess young people just like to have their friends around them, and they probably work on shorter time-frames than older people. Maybe they just like a nice suntan. But how long do they want this thing to go on? It's in their interests too to toe the line and do everything they can to reduce the spread of the virus.
From what I can see, from my ancient and decrepit viewpoint, it doesn't look good. The longer the current re-opening goes on and the better the weather gets, the less responsible people of all ages are becoming. I don't need statistics, I can see it all around me on the streets.

As May turned into June, the inexorable rise in COVID-19 cases among younger people has continued. You can look at this graph and see it happening before your very eyes.
Scientists say they are not quite sure why it is happening. All I can say is "see above".
Younger folks seem to have had enough. They can see their youth frittering away, and they want to LIVE it, so that's just what their doing. Unfortunately, that may lead to a much shorter life, either for their themselves or for others. So, I say, "hang in there a bit longer, guys, it's in your own long-term interests".

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