Hammers and Hangnails

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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33 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Strong agree. Some people fall into the Suffering Olympics which is complete garbage. At a time when we are all under stress telling others their troubles aren’t suffering right is , at best, completely unhelpful. We dont’ know where this is going which makes the relatively not terrible struggle of staying at home much worse. Uncertainty makes everything worse. We got TP but we need to keep our supplies of slack to give each other full.Report

  2. Doctor Jay says:

    I fully agree in general. Just because one person has it worse, doesn’t mean you aren’t worthy of consideration, and should be piled on.

    In particular, I’m not sure that the comments referenced were in particular toward Saul’s piece or more in general, and perhaps inspired by other comments.

    Because of the nature of the comment, it’s ambiguous.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I try to keep in mind that every single complaint I have about my current situation would come across as a humblebrag to someone in a worse one.

    Heck, even that sentence right there was a humblebrag.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird says:

      Exactly! Great point.

      I know sometimes my complaints about my parental units are seen by some who have lost theirs, or have truly awful ones, as in poor taste. But it hurts sometimes and so I complain even when I shouldn’t.Report

      • I never saw it that way, and my grief for my dad is still pretty fresh. Life doesn’t stop for everyone else just because mine has changed.

        I saw a re-doing of that old This Is Fine dog cartoon (you know the one) where the dog is sitting inside a house, with a roll of TP on the table. He is safe, but there is fire all around outside the house. And he is saying his tagline…. and I realized, yeah, that is kind of me. I mean, yes, there are tiresome things about my “captivity” and I am still worried for the future of my career, but….right now I’m basically fine. I just need to remember that.Report

  4. Stillwater says:

    From the publisher: “The Dearest Mollie letters constitute a collection of stand-alone historical documents, written contemporaneously with the events so described, and reveal the perspectives, worries and concerns of participants directly affected by the Pandemic of 2020. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or publisher.”Report

  5. Great post, Kristin!Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    The current situation is a very new situation. Very few people in the West know what it is like to live with a disease as infectious and seemingly deadly like COVID. I lived in Japan during the SARS pandemic and there were no real restrictions. The only thing I remember if my country said “You can go to China if you want to but can’t come back to work for 14 days after your return and we are not paying you during that time.” There was no stay in place order, no general shutdown, no hardcore social distancing where they limit the amount of people into supermarkets, etc. According to Andrew, there were school shutdowns during H1N1 and I believe him but I just can’t recall them. I certainly do not recall this hardcore shutdown where I wait in line to get into the supermarket. According to wiki, the H1N1 pandemic lasted from January 2009 to August 2010 or the second semester of 1L for me to the start of 3L. The only thing I remember was some vague talk about finals being potentially canceled during the second semester of 1L. This did not happen.

    What the comments were basically about were how long can this situation continue for before people get antsy and say fuck it. There are lots of people on the net who seem to think that this can last for another 18 months if it must. I am highly skeptical. Is it just hardcore introverts who love shelter in place making this comments? Have these people met other people? The weather is about to get nice and this is going to make people want to go outside.

    There are lots of people who seem to be predicting that what we are doing now is the new normal. Maybe bars and restaurants can reopen but capacity will be halved, etc. I honestly have no idea where these people are coming from. The 1918 flu pandemic (the closest thing we have in comparison) did not lead to a permanent change in way of life. Why is everyone going futurist here and predicting the end of retail, the end of eating out, the end of bars, concerts, the office, business conferences, etc?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      What the comments were basically about were how long can this situation continue for before people get antsy and say fuck it. There are lots of people on the net who seem to think that this can last for another 18 months if it must. I am highly skeptical. Is it just hardcore introverts who love shelter in place making this comments? Have these people met other people? The weather is about to get nice and this is going to make people want to go outside.

      The virus is patient, Saul.

      That’s why these rules exist. Not because people want you to not go out and have fun with others, but because the virus might kill you. And even if it doesn’t kill you, it might kill someone else through you.

      And it sucks to stay inside.

      But the virus is patient.

      And pointing out that it’s not fair and that it’s kinda problematic and that it has disparate impact on certain parts of town will not change the fact that the virus is patient.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        We all know that the virus is patient. You know Saul is more intelligent than that. I still think that most likely course is that after a certain amount of time people are going to learn to fatalistically accept Covid-19 and go on with their life rather than dealing with social distancing for nine to eighteen months plus reconstruction. Imagine a politician telling people no dating, no sex, no weddings, no birthdays, and no funerals for at least a year. Putting these things in harsh terms. How many people are going to stand for this? How much force will be necessary to get social distancing for a year or more?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

          How many people are going to stand for this? How much force will be necessary to get social distancing for a year or more?

          Lee. I’m not the one making the rule that “if you encounter the Corona, you’ve got an X% chance to get it and, if you get it, a Y% chance to die. And, before you die, you have a good chance of spreading it to others.”

          I think it’s the “good chance of spreading it to others” that has everybody pissed off. If you just wanted to get out on the floor and shake your ass and maybe die, I’m pretty sure that nobody would really mind that much. It’s the getting out on the floor, shaking your ass, going home, and then giving it to three other people as you pass them in the cereal aisle picking up your Wheaties and then one of them dying while the other two give it to three other people that people are having a moral issue with.

          And pointing out that you really, really, really want to get out and shake your ass on the dance floor is only going to change the minds of the most enthusiastic dance fans.

          It’s not going to change the mind of people who think “Hey… my cereal supplies are getting dangerously low!”Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

            I know your real political beliefs, which are definitely not we can and will do social distancing for eighteen months while scientists work this out. Can you answer me this straight without your usual DADA? How long do you think 330 million people, I’m only dealign with the United States here, can be placed under a social distancing regime without fascist level force?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

              This isn’t a political belief.

              This is one of those sciencey ones.

              If you encounter the Corona, you’ve got an X% chance to get it and, if you get it, a Y% chance to die. And, before you die, you have a good chance of spreading it to others.

              I don’t know what X is. I don’t know what Y is. But I do know that X has this “exponential growth” thing going on and Y might be high enough to start with a whole number.

              Let’s assume that it’s “low”. One out of a hundred.

              You’re using 330 million people? That’s 3.3 million dead.

              And, as you say, we’re only dealing with the United States here.

              Is that too high of a price to pay?

              Depends on the 3.3 million, I guess.

              But, to veer back into the political, you wouldn’t believe the policies I’ve heard advanced for death numbers much, much, much, much, much lower than 3.3 million.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

                Nobody is debating the scientific reality of Covid-19. The debate is on how long we can realistically keep people shelter in place or social distancing without resorting to high levels of authoritarian force. Previous quarantines were a lot more limited than what is being attempted now. It was particular area or even a particular house, and people still went batty and tried to get out. Covid-19 has its own scientific reality but so does the fact that humans are social animals and will eventually suffer psychological harm if asked to stay inside for x period of time, especially if they don’t have a job that can be done online.

                The other issue is if we really need to keep people sheltered in place, what steps need to be taken to allow for this. European countries are trying an experiment in freezing the economy in place. The government will pay everybody up to seventy-five to eighty percent of their salaries as long as the companies don’t engage in mass lay offs. Rents, mortgages, etc. are frozen.

                We know something like this isn’t possible politically in the United States. Instead we get a slush fund for billionaires and overly complicated kludge systems that don’t really help people get through this period.Report

              • James K in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Gentlemen, you’re both right. Jay, it’s not that you’re wrong about the science of this, but people’s behaviour is a fact that has to be considered too. The fancy term for it in government circles is “Social Licence”. Basically, you can’t make a whole lot of people of something unless you can convince that bulk of those people to go along with it.

                New Zealand is in a very harsh lockdown right now (basically no one is allowed to leave their homes except for buying food brief stints for exercise and, if your’e an essential service, to go to work), and will be for another 2 weeks at least. I very much doubt such measures would have been possible, if it wasn’t for the death toll in Italy, and I don’t think New Zealanders will tolerate these conditions for very long, public support is high for now, but there’s simply no way New Zealanders would tolerate being in Level 4 lockdown for 18 months, even if our economy could survive it.

                The behaviour of COVID-19 is a matter of fact. The way humans behave is also a matter of fact. Neither will bend to your will, no matter how much you might want them to.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to James K says:

                Which is why my prediction is that you get two to three months of social distancing/shelter in place at most before just fatalistically start to accept Covid-19 and take their chances. A lot of people get very cross when I point this out though.Report

              • James K in reply to LeeEsq says:

                This is where I think New Zealand has done well with our alert levels – it gives the government the ability to scale the response up and down in a easy-to-understand way.

                And yes, people often get angry when humans fail to behave like mindless automatons, I’m no longer surprised by it, just irritated.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The debate is on how long we can realistically keep people shelter in place or social distancing without resorting to high levels of authoritarian force.

                One of the things I’ve noticed is that doctors and nurses have started getting it.

                There is a point at which doctors and nurses stop doing the job. Either because: They’re sick/dead or they don’t want to become sick/dead.

                If we are okay with this thing just going through the population, taking out somewhere around Italian numbers of people, then we just need to prepare the country for 3.3 million dead. How hard could it be?

                The problem is that there are a number of people who are not okay with 3.3 million dead. A shocking amount of them happen to be politicians.

                But if we’re okay with making San Francisco’s numbers look like New York’s numbers, then I guess we’re okay with that.

                Have at it, guys. Post pictures!Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “ Is it just hardcore introverts who love shelter in place making this comments?”
      No. Can you possibly imagine why?Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      We are still in the very early days of Covid-19. The shelter in place enthusiasts, at least those that aren’t dyed in the wool anti-capitalists hoping to remake society in their image, are treating this as a sort of picnic romp. We all stay in for the next two to three months, besides essential workers or necessary chores, and then we all go out again like nothing happened and get on with our lives as we tell tales of what we streamed during the epidemic. None of them are seeing this as a really long term way of living despite what they type

      In many ways, I find them just as delusional as the Covid-19 optimists or deniers, those that say this is a liberal hoax or nothing more than a bad flu. They are assuming that a few months of shelter in place will be enough and then snapback to normalcy. A worst case Covid-19 scenario won’t be like that though. It will take a lot of wear and tear on humans. So if we do our shelter in place and then Covid-19 returns with a vengeance? Then what?Report

      • gabriel conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I see an interesting* dynamic here. People, like Saul, who generally write on this site about the need for policies to protect others (e.g., higher minimum wages), even if that means some inconvenience for still others (e.g., a lower number of jobs), change course in this situation.

        On the other hand, people, like me, who suggest we remember the “still others” who don’t benefit from the ostensibly beneficent policies that are proposed, now support something like shelter in place, at least for the time being.**

        It’s a reversal. A libertarian-leaning person (me) endorses some facially libertarian-unfriendly policy, while a liberal-leaning person (Saul) asks us to remember the loss of liberty. It’s true that both Saul’s and my views are much more complicated than is often claimed, but when we’re dealing with blog comments, it’s easier to bait one side as saying “hardcore introverts who love shelter in place” and to bait the other side as saying “dear Mollie’s.”

        So…..I guess it’s an opportunity for each of us to reconsider how we treat each other and to reconsider that each of us has complicated takes on things. It’s usually not a simplistic, “I’m good and on the side of the righteous” and “that other person is bad and on the side of evil.”

        Maybe it’s also an opportunity to laugh a little at ourselves and at our own contradictions, even in this trying time.

        *By “interesting,” I guess I mean, “something that conveniently has come about to let me make a point.”
        **I object to characterizing people, like me, who support shelter in place as “enthusiasts.” While I’m sure there are some “shelter in place enthusiasts” out there, I suspect there aren’t a lot of them. I suspect that most, by far, are people who think it’s a necessary, but regrettable, thing we ought to do. None of that is to accuse you of not seeing the logic behind it. I understand your concerns are that people are simply going to stop complying after a few weeks unless there are some more authoritarian measures–and those measures likely as not won’t be forthcoming. You might be right about that.Report

    • The 1918 flu pandemic (the closest thing we have in comparison) did not lead to a permanent change in way of life.

      I’m not so sure that’s true. I’m not saying it’s not true, but we (or at least I) would need to do some more study before affirmatively stating that. Sometimes history surprises us and things that we’ve forgotten turn out to have been a big deal.Report

      • (I should add: “a big deal in ways we hadn’t realized.” I know you’re not saying the flu pandemic wasn’t a big deal.)Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to gabriel conroy says:

          The flu pandemic was a big deal but it’s difficult to suss out the changes that were purely the result of the 1918 flu epidemic and those that exist because World War I and in the United States Prohibition happened at the same time. Since we don’t have a big global war going on this time and Prohibition isn’t coming back, we are going to be able to suss out the changes caused by 1918.

          Some people seem to be believing that the Covid-19 pandemic will result in a world like Demolition Man where only the chains survive and all those charming local businesses from restaurants, bars, barber shops, hair salons, and retail stores go under because they can’t survive long periods of close in the same way. This assumes that landlords aren’t going to decide that some form of rent forgiveness isn’t in their best interest though. Basically a world where everybody goes to Super Cuts and TGIF is the highest most people get to fine dining. The true fine dining experiences and independent retail will be reserved for the very wealthy. There won’t be enough ordinary people with disposable income for the occasional splurge because of the amount of unemployment.

          Another prediction is that Covid-19 will result in a smaller, more mean-spirited world because authoritarians are using this to increase their power and countries are closing their border. I’ve seen a prediction that some European Union leaders fear Covid-19 might lead to the undoing of the European Union. There would be less travel and immigration because not only could fewer people afford but it would be bureaucratically harder than it was in the recent past.Report

          • gabriel conroy in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I agree that the end of WWI probably complicates matters. But it’s quite possible the flu pandemic really did, of its own accord, create complicated social and political consequences that haven’t been documented. (Or maybe they have been documented. I’m not familiar with the historiography.) Again, I get your point that it’s difficult to suss out the effects of that pandemic.

            I do agree with what I take to be the gist of the rest of your comment, that a lot of us are making predictions that may or may not turn out. (If I read you right, you’re not necessarily saying the predictions are correct, but you’re not saying they’re incorrect. Apologies if I’ve got it wrong.)Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to gabriel conroy says:

              I can see the logic in all sorts of predictions but it is really hard to suss it out. The argument that Covid-19 is going to be really hard on non-chains is based roughly on the idea that the landlords will kick all the tenants out for non-payment of rent/mortgage if the business owns the land and nobody will have money to pay for their goods or services. My problem with the first part regarding evictions is that nobody is paying rent and many states declared a rent/mortgage moratorium for the quarantine. Since nobody is paying rent and the Covid-19 virus might decrease the rental value of properties, many landlords might find it more pragmatic to just let existing tenants continue so they can earn money sooner than latter. There might also be political intervention against Covid-19 ejections. That could save many local businesses.

              The idea of only chains surviving rests is also based on the idea that consumers would be willing to deal with this. At least in major metropolitan areas, consumer tastes have grown more sophisticated due to increased wealth and knowledge. I can’t imagine the Bay Area resident dealign with a situation where the fanciest restaurant is Ruby Tuesdays and all hair cuts are done at home or Supercuts. There will be demand for more boutique goods and services.

              On the other hand, most landlords can decide to act in a short-sighted manner and the resulting Covid-19 depression can easily cause even rather affluent consumers to lower their expectations and live life closer to the bone. Landlord short-sightedness is not an unknown phenomenon. I’ve seen well-loved reliable businesses have to close not because they were struggling but because the landlord found somebody who could pay a higher rent than they could and went for the higher rent. So the chain prediction might end up right.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    I think it depends…
    “Hey… I’m struggling here…”
    “Hey… I’m struggling here so obviously the REAL problem is what’s causing my struggle and the obvious response must be what resolves it.”

    You can’t expect empathy when you wrongly try to extrapolate your struggle to others.Report