Aisles and aisles of empty shelves. Panic-buying, empty grocery stores, hoarding of sanitizers. This is not a cut scene from the survival horror videogame. This is the reaction people have to the news of coronavirus hitting the US.
When it comes to information, we are bombarded with it right front and center. You are probably already sick of hearing about it in the media. The last thing you need right now is some student’s coronavirus essay in English. What can this person possibly tell us that you don’t know already?
Nothing. I am not trying to. Strictly speaking, this is not quite a coronavirus essay. My essay is about people, their fears, and their responsibilities.
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we are on the same page.
Due to the high contagiousness of the SARS-CoV-2, it’s unlikely to be contained. Our task as a community is to do everything in our power to flatten the curve. This means we must make sure there is no explosive growth of infection in the population. By keeping the epidemic at bay, we can make sure that everyone who falls ill will have a bed in the health care facilities and will be properly treated. This is critical for saving lives.
“It only kills the elderly, if you are young, you can relax” I hear many of my peers saying. Um, no. I cannot relax. I cannot be irresponsible and risk spreading the disease only because it’s deadlier to someone else than me. I wouldn’t want to infect my elderly neighbors or relatives. I wouldn’t want my optimistic negligence to kill my grandma or some younger person who has complications. Young people should not be scared, but they must be responsible not to assist coronavirus’ spreading. It’s so simple!
Face masks are a courtesy to others. If you are infected (you may not know about it yet), you won’t infect others. That’s community-oriented thinking. That is humane – not stockpiling household supplies as if zombie apocalypse is upon us. Sanitizer is nice, but do you really need hundreds of bottles? It’s not holy water, and people around you aren’t about to turn into blood-thirsty monsters.
The unprecedented stockpiling that I’ve mentioned before is wrong for so many reasons.
People are told they’d better stay home and keep appropriate social distance with other people to prevent the spread of the virus. What do they do? They pack the stores and breathe down each other’s necks in lines to stock on toilet paper, which is not even an essential item if your household has water readily available!
The most chilling part of this stocking-up craze is the lines in front of gun stores. People are buying guns and ammunition as if they will be forced to protect their lives and resources in the nearest days.
Many will blame the survival horror genre – videogames, films, books. However, it’s not the media’s bad influence. It’s our suppressed fears boiling to the surface. Media have been just reflecting our deepest anxieties.
The situation now reminds me of an old Twilight Zone episode called “The Shelter”, where people shed their humanity as soon as they heard the announcement on the radio about unidentified objects (presumably nukes) heading for the United States. People fought for places in the fallout shelter only to find out some minutes later that the announcement was wrong and nothing threatened them.
I know that with the help of one essay coronavirus won’t be stopped. Yet maybe it will stop at least one of my peers from acting recklessly and spreading the virus further. Who knows, maybe it even will save someone’s life.
It’s not about you. Young, healthy, lucky you. It’s about the most vulnerable people around you. Elderly people, people with asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer… Keep them safe. Don’t pack a closet full of toilet paper, canned meat, and ammo. Just stay at home if you have a runny nose.
Allow me to conclude with the quote from the aforementioned Twilight Zone episode. “No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.”