As the death toll across the nation rises from the novel Coronavirus, the importance of social distancing during this pandemic seems incredibly obvious. Despite this, many individuals are choosing to continue going out to populated areas like beaches, bars, clubs, etc. with no consideration for the health and safety of those around them.
The popular arguments for this group tend to vary from those who believe they aren’t at risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus due to their young age and or healthy lifestyle, to those who believe that staying home and avoiding gatherings will “obstruct their right to freedom.” Though both groups are acting selfishly and risking the lives of countless others, I have a few words to those in the latter group: Fuck your freedom.
Though I know I’m far from alone in my contempt for those who believe that their own personal freedom is more important than the health and well-being of others, I wholeheartedly believe that this message needs to be restated.
Recently, actress and author Evangeline Lilly posted a photo on Instagram with the accompanying caption, “Some people value their lives over freedom, some people value freedom over their lives,” she wrote. “We all make our choices … where we are right now feels a lot too close to Marshall Law for my comfort already, all in the name of a respiratory flu.”
Unfortunately, Lilly was not the only celebrity with immense amounts of influence to post carelessly about the COVID-19 virus. Actress Vanessa Hudgens also decided to express her opinions on the pandemic when she went on Instagram Live and stated, “Yeah, people are gonna die, which is terrible, but like, inevitable?”
Despite Hudgens apologizing for her comments later, her words — and those of Lilly, were reflections of a much larger issue at hand. Celebrities hold a great amount of influence over their fans and those who have a casual understanding of their status.
Comments like these can influence others to throw their own safety and the safety of others into the wind, especially when they’re reinforcing pre-existing beliefs.
Not only is it abundantly ignorant to promote opinions like these, but it’s also incredibly dangerous. In the New York Times article, Wondering About Social Distancing?, author Apoorva Mandavilli cites the vitally important words of Dr. Gerardo Chowell, chair of population health sciences at Georgia State University,
“Every single reduction in the number of contacts you have per day with relatives, with friends, co-workers, in school will have a significant impact on the ability of the virus to spread in the population.”
In times as dark as these, it’s critical to understand that we must all work together to end the needless suffering of others. By neglecting social distancing orders in order to “protect your own personal freedom”, you put at risk the lives of your friends, neighbors, teachers, doctors and families.
So the next time you consider going out, ask yourself: are you asserting your right to freedom or ensuring the continuation of a pandemic?