ColumnsEditor's Notes

Editor’s Note: Digging the COVID Hole Deeper

Conspiracy theorists and science deniers keep us bogged down in a pandemic

Looking back now on an Editor’s Note I wrote for our March 25 issue, which in COVID time was five years ago, I can’t help but shake my head at the naïveté of my younger, more hopeful self.

In that column, I wrote: “When [crisis] happens, the cliché that many people cling to is the potential for chaos — that the strings of society will unravel and we will eventually reach a place where it’s every person for themself. That’s a narrative built on watching too many movies, in my opinion. Sure, you see the greed and self-centered behavior of some folks come out in a time like this, hoarding groceries unnecessarily or ignoring orders to practice social distancing because it’s inconvenient or boring.

“History shows, however, that these are anomalies. In times of crisis, a vast majority of humans want to help. It’s our nature, once we believe our own families and loved ones to be safe and secure, to want to reach out and see who else needs a hand.”

As we approach the five-month mark since the time that column was published, I don’t feel as much faith in humanity as I did when I wrote it. Back in March, it was thought that reaching 50,000 deaths in the United States would be a tragic milestone, to be avoided at all costs. We’ve now surpassed 160,000 people dead.

Videos of privileged people throwing fits in grocery stores are constant on social media, and President Donald Trump has not only failed to take action, but added fuel to the COVID-19 fire by raising doubts about the science around coronavirus. He has publicly trashed the lead doctor in his own Coronavirus Task Force but showed support for a group calling itself “America’s Frontline Doctors” that held a press conference in Washington D.C. floating unproven conspiracy theories not based in science at all.

Mask up. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

And as the death toll continues to rise, many Americans have continued to do what they’re best at: point fingers. They blame Dr. Anthony Fauci, they blame Black Lives Matter protesters, they blame Gov. Cooper, they blame anyone but the folks who had the ability to prevent all of this — or at the very least look out for people’s livelihoods since they don’t seem to be interested in lives.

These people especially love to blame their favorite scapegoat: the media.

One of my favorite tropes to watch from science-deniers during the COVID-19 pandemic revolves around a theme as illogical as it is desperate: that the media is rooting for the virus. This idea seems to be borne of the notion that the media thrives on chaos and unrest, so they want to see it all burn down; it’s good for their ratings. As the co-owner of a media company that saw ad revenues virtually disappear overnight at the onset of the pandemic, I can assure you that’s an asinine theory to push.

The irrationality of this postulation played out in the discussion around the potential cancellation of the 2020 college football season. Out from the woodwork came this sea of idiots spouting nonsense about how all of mainstream sports media was rooting for the cancellation of the season. To what end, I’m not sure, but I saw the word “Corona bros” tossed around a few times and ejected myself from the rabbit hole.

The idea that sports journalists — or journalists in general — have an endgame in mind that would effectively take their job away is one of the more foolish theories I’ve heard, and there have been some real contenders this year.

As my friend and former Carolina Panthers reporter Jourdan Rodrigue succinctly stated in response to an actual Fox Sports analyst theorizing that much of the college media landscape had “worked hard to push panic and fear” on Twitter: “I am honestly and genuinely curious…why do people tweet this shit? What is the point…you’re so *brave* to take a stand against…logic, precaution and empathy? Meanwhile people are dying and people are indeed frightened because of a literal pandemic, but cool likes I guess.”

Ahhh, I’ll miss her.

In the meantime, on a local level, eviction proceedings have resumed, the Tent City on 12th Street continues to grow as property owners prepare to kick people off the land, and dozens of popular bars and venues like Abari Game Bar have shut down for good. Oh yeah, and people continue to die. You may not know any of them yet — and if that’s the case, you’re lucky — but lots of people are dying.

I promise you, nobody wants this coronavirus to continue. However, as you should have learned at some point in your childhood, the way to confront a problem is not to ignore it. The cure for COVID-19 does not include flouting the restrictions designed by health officials using the most recent science to help curb its spread.

Get your mind right, or we’re not getting out of this Phase 2, on-the-fence hellscape anytime soon.

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