2020 has definitely been a memorable year. From the Pentagon releasing footage of UFOs, the Black Lives Matter movement making an impact around the world, to a global pandemic causing more than 800,000 deaths worldwide. The comparison of 2020 to a movie is all over social media - mostly as a joke. However, what may be psychological horror for some is instead a romantic comedy for others.
After being sent home from college in mid-March, my friends and I promised to keep in touch during these hard times. Over the past several months I’ve come to realize that the differences between my friends and me is much greater than I thought. While I spent most of quarantine sitting in my room watching and rewatching TV shows, one of my friends was in love and spending nights with their significant other, going to beaches, getting high, and taking late-night drives. It was beautiful and I was happy for them -- albeit a bit jealous. Another friend was struggling with affording school, paying bills, and staying sane in a discriminatory workplace as a woman of colour. When I look at both of them I’m able to recognize the two sides of myself: the me who grew up as a minority in a small town with little money, humble roots, unable to afford my own car; and the me who moved to NYC, able to live comfortably without worrying about bills, chasing my dream because of my working parents and scholarship. So, there I was for 5 months sitting in my apartment with little to do besides watch TV. I was bored and limited in opportunities, but I was comfortable.
The reality I’ve come to accept is that while some are able to use the current state of the world to take chances and better themselves in some way: spiritually, physically, mentally, etc., others aren’t as lucky and are going through some of the hardest times in their lives. It’s not fair, but it’s the way things are. There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking advantage of your opportunities and living your life as happily as possible, but problems arise when romanticization comes into play. A poster recently went viral, saying “To romanticize quarantine is a class privilege”. Romanticizing is when one: deals with or describe[s] in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make something seem better or more appealing than it really is. I’ve seen too many Twitter posts and Tinder profiles preaching how these times are a blessing in disguise as some sit by their pools and post pictures of parties in their giant houses. It’s understandable that given the right circumstances one can live safely and without many worries. However, it’s foolish to assume that’s the norm and to write off the impact of these traumatic times. It is easy to look at the world through rose-coloured glasses, but we need to remember that it “is not the same to spend the quarantine in luxury mansions with huge gardens than in tiny apartments of public housing, where the windows are so small that hardly any light enters through them”.
The main way to keep from glamorizing a global pandemic is to stay aware of people outside your community and socio-economic class. Many people are losing their jobs or getting fewer hours, and on top of the security of their income being at risk, “over half of [the] people concerned about their jobs also have less than four months of savings”. There are other factors to consider as well, such as a decline in mental health. Research shows that during the pandemic there will likely be an increase in suicides, overdose deaths and substance use disorders. In communities with a high percentage of people of colour, access to healthcare is very limited, and mental health problems may be looked down upon due to negative stigma causing people to self-medicate instead of looking for professional help. This in addition to the struggles of a decreased household income and possibly taking care of high-risk loved ones will have catastrophic results.
It is important that we consider the different individuals and their backgrounds when discussing the effects of the pandemic. Everyone has a unique experience during this Covid-19 outbreak, so it is our duty to remain mindful, considerate, and realistic as we all struggle through it.
Written by: Lana James
Cover art/ graphic designer: Vanessa Lopez