If a week’s a long time in politics, in the Covid-19 world, it’s a lifetime. In most of Europe – now the epicenter of the virus – just seven days ago, our kids were still in school, restaurants and pubs were packed, operas and concerts were taking place, public transport was full.
We knew the coronavirus was coming, but didn’t quite believe it. Now we do. The dystopian reality of life across most of Europe, the US and the rest of the world is not something I need to explain. We’ve seen the empty streets, the police presence, the people barricaded into their homes, the masks, the draconian measures to keep citizens from infecting each other.
Our collective fear is exacerbated by the look of concern on our leaders’ faces as they tell us how many people could die, and warn us to isolate ourselves.
Most of us are listening to them, accepting that we need to do our bit to stop the virus, while applauding health workers who look after the sick in extreme conditions.
But for all the heroes risking infection, working in hospitals around the clock, there are idiots doing the opposite, defying fact and science, and displaying an antisocial ambivalence that jeopardizes not just them, but all of us.
Under the ‘coronavirus challenge’, TikTok user and social media influencer Ava Louise, who goes by the username @avalouiise, posted a video of herself licking the seat of a toilet bowl on a flight to Miami, so she could be on TV. She claimed to have made US$4,000 for the stunt and got loads of media attention.
Not so far down the road in Florida, young millennial spring breakers gathered on South Beach to defy orders and social distancing, to celebrate no matter what. One reveller, Briana Reeder, told a US television station that the coronavirus crackdown was “really messing up my Spring break…what else is there to do here apart from go to the bars or the beach and now they’re closing all of it. I think they’re blowing it way out of proportion.”
American conservative commentator and political activist, Candace Owens stood up for the young revellers defying the safety advice, calling the international emergency a “social experiment.”
“You can’t make them freak out because you’re freaking out,” she said, pointing out that thousands were fighting over toilet paper across the country, not keeping ‘social distancing’ in mind. In relation to quarantining people in order to stop the spread of the deadly virus, she said; “I tell you what’s wrong with that. Anyone telling you that is completely out of touch with reality.”
Meanwhile, a Florida-based evangelist preacher declared his church would remain open, saying: ‘‘We’re raising up revivalists, not pansies.”
Rodney Howard Browne, who leads a church called the River in Tampa, slammed social distancing, encouraging his congregation to carry on shaking hands. “This has to be the safest place,” he declared. “if you cannot be safe in church, you’re in serious trouble. This church will never close.”
In Britain, on the Good Morning Show on ITV, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 79-year-old father, Stanley, said he would continue to go to the pub, despite his son “urging people to stay away from pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres, especially if they are aged over 70.”
His attitude is mirrored by English people across the country. On St Patrick’s Day, young people, clearly without the health of their parents or grandparents on their minds, gathered in pubs and nightspots dressed in leprechaun suits. In Liverpool a rammed bar featured revellers singing “F***k coronavirus” to the tune of Seven Nation Army. Nice one, lads.
As Spain became the fourth most infected nation in the world and people were preparing for a lockdown, a group of British tourists in Benidorm were doing their best to avoid virus precautions and carry on with their holiday as normal.
“It’s just a flu, that you need to get over. Have a beer. Happy days. Ciao guys,” a beer-drinking punter pointed out. After all, what’s a killer virus when there’s beer to be drunk?
An extreme situation like the coronavirus outbreak will show up the good, the bad and the inherently stupid.
My one hope is that as we eventually return to ‘normality’, Covid-19 will have achieved something positive: a new era where attention seekers, narcissists, talentless goons, social media obsessors, vacuous reality stars and ‘renegade’ influencers won’t have a place.
Just like ‘wokeness’ and hysterical PC culture, in a perfect post-Covid-19 life, platforms won’t be given to people who lick toilet bowls for attention, because society will have grown. Or at least, I pray they won’t. It’s up to us to stop glamorizing idiocy.