Many aren't going to like this post, and that's okay with me. I'm not known by my friends for being diplomatic. I simply say it as I see it. My intention in this post isn't to offend. And if you are offended, could I suggest some introspection?
In a time that many in the UK are under some form of lockdown, like millions around the world, stuck in our homes, unable to live a 'normal' life. Unable to see our friends and families as freely as before. Unable to go to the gym. Cinema. Football game. Live gigs.....
I get it.
I also know that this is having a serious impact on the economy and many businesses around the globe. I personally know several business owners who have had an absolute disaster of a year (in some cases you wouldn't tell by their social media posts). I myself have been significantly impacted with very few photoshoots in 2020.
I really get it.
Some people are also in the position that they are getting zero government support right now. I am also in this group. As I have not yet made a tax return due to only launching my business in June 2019, I don't qualify for any financial assistance.
I GET IT
COVID is a bastard/bitch.
It's affected millions/billions of lives around the world. There are going to be consequences of this pandemic for many years to come. Many businesses have closed their doors for the last time. Both large and sole trader businesses.
But here is the thing.
COVID is not personal.
Social media can be a struggle sometimes
Lately, I've been really struggling with engaging on LinkedIn. It has for the past couple of years been my platform of choice to spend time on and engage with my network.
Along the way, I've disconnected from those people who, through their posts and comments, I can tell are not people or businesses I'd personally want to do business with. And I've lost many connections along the way for my views and opinions.
That is all pretty standard stuff. We all have different opinions, views, ethics and morals. We are not all going to get on. And that is okay.
An opinion is like a butthole, everyone has one.
As I say above, we all have our opinions. I saw a quote once along the lines of, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."
The sorts of posts and comments I'm really struggling with on LinkedIn (I'm sure it's true for Facebook too depending on which groups, pages and people you follow, I have simply filtered most of Facebook negativity out already) are around COVID19 and the vaccines.
When this all kicked off in March 2019 in the UK, it didn't take people long to start fighting the government. Some points were valid, and some were just for the sake of having something to say.
Valid comments and posts included, "The government was too late to enforce lockdown", "The government were too quick to lift lockdown", "Schools should have closed sooner", "School children shouldn't be going to school"
The creating issues comments and posts included. "5G causes COVID19", "COVID-19 was created by the Illuminati", "COVID19 was invented in a Chinese lab" (this one may actually have some legs, but it's not useful during the peak of a pandemic. Let's worry about where it came from after we've dealt with the issue at hand shall we?). "We shouldn't be in lockdown".....
Who are you to judge whats valid and what's not?
I'm no one. But scientists are clever folk. Science is a very useful thing in our lives that has resulted in countless of what we now call facts. Things that science has and can prove. Like that gravity sucks. That DNA exists. That fast food is bad. Having a black mamba as a pet is a stupid idea.
Pretty useful stuff science.
So when scientists speak, I listen.
Now, I'm not talking about self-proclaimed scientists, of which millions have certified during the year of 2020. If you want to, you can find articles from 'scientists' telling you how the Earth is flat. Articles how 5G caused COVID. How global warming isn't a thing etc
I also apply logic to what I hear on the news.
I know enough about technology to know there have been conspiracy theories around technology for decades and that's going to be with us for as long as technology is. So the whole 5G caused COVID thing I just laugh off.
Sweden got it right!
Many people in the UK were shouting about how we shouldn't have gone into the first lockdown in March 2020. They cited Sweden's model, of basically doing very little, as the way the UK should have handled things.
Let's explore, shall we?
Sweden, a country in the region known as the Nordic Region which consists also of Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland.
Let's look at the COVID stats for those countries, humour me.
These stats were accurate as of 30th December 2020.
Sweden - Total cases - 437,379 - Total Deaths - 8,727 - Deaths per million citizens - 745.42
Denmark - Total cases - 161,230 - Total Deaths - 1,256 - Deaths per million citizens - 165.16
Norway - Total cases - 48,635 - Total Deaths - 436 - Deaths per million citizens - 73.86
Finland - Total cases - 35,858 - Total Deaths - 556 - Deaths per million citizens - 84.42
Iceland - Total cases - 5754 - Total Deaths - 29 - Deaths per million citizens - ? (can't find this data as of writing this post)
Now given these statistics above, which I have no valid reason to doubt, (they were obtained from Worldometers and Statista which are both sites that I believe are reputable and reporting the data as released by the countries) how can any logical person still be making this argument today? And yet they are!
Of all the Nordic countries, Sweden has very clearly (or apparently not) done the worst with regards to cases, deaths and deaths per 1m capita. That is not my opinion, that is the figures we have to go by.
But I'm sure some will simply say, "well how do we know the countries are accurately reporting the numbers!". And to you I say, "how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? And do you not have more important matters to attend to?"
The first duty of government
"The first duty of the government is to keep citizens safe and the country secure. The Home Office has been at the front line of this endeavour since 1782." (Gov.uk)
Therefore, if you've ever run a project before, you understand the concept of priorities. So when the government is faced with an imminent threat to its citizens versus financial impact, which would you prioritise given your first duty is to keep citizens safe and the country secure?
The answer for most would be, protect your people against the immediate threat. That immediate threat being, at the time (and as I write this), COVID.
Yes, there will be financial consequences, there already are. Yes, there will and have been job loses. Business loses. Yes, it has affected our children. It has also affected our old. And everyone in between.
But when people make comments like, "lockdown is going to kill businesses and make millions unemployed" what value does it bring? To the person you're addressing or, more importantly, to yourself?
We know lockdown has these consequences. We know things are and will be tough for years to come. But when people are already stressed out, is making a comment like that useful?
You're essentially trying to incite people to take issue with the government for doing exactly what the voting population put them there to do, protect its citizens.
The irony is that many of these that feel the government have dealt with this incorrectly and that lockdowns are unnecessary and therefore will not abide by the guidelines, are quite happy to take their furlough payments and other benefits the government has made available.
As far as I'm concerned, if you're happy to take the support then you should be happy to abide by the regulations around lockdown in your area.
If your employer pays you, you have to sign and agree to abide by their company handbook guidelines, or you could get sacked.
So if you're going to say you're going to take your chances, and risk the lives of others whilst at it, at least don't be a hypocrite and do so whilst the very government you are rebelling against are keeping your bills paid by paying 80% of your salary so that you can abide by their requests.
Anti vaccine people
Again, I see more posts from anti-vaxxers than I do from pro-vaxxers. It's like I see more posts from vegans than I do from meat eaters.
Their reasoning for their decision not to have a vaccine differs. The arguments I have personally seen include,
"There is a microchip in the vaccine". Ok. So what exactly is the microchip for? To track your whereabouts? If you go about your life with a smartphone in your pocket, you already voluntarily have a microchip dipshit.
If you use the internet and social media, you're already giving your whereabouts away to those who can be bothered to care.
They really don't have to go to the easily discoverable risk of putting a microchip into a vaccine to know about you. You're already providing so much information just by being online.
"It takes 10 years to create a vaccine. They have rushed this through!". It simply doesn't. A simply Google search and reading of articles from reputable websites will very quickly dispel this bollocks for anyone who can be bothered to do a bit of fact checking.
As science and technology improve, inevitably things get more efficient. The first cars were capable of top speeds of 28mph. 20 years ago it took weeks and weeks of coding to put together a half decent website. Now you can put together something half decent in a day.
Ultimately, the vaccines may have been created quicker that some may like, but they have still gone through the same approval process of those vaccines you imagine took 10 years to create.
Whether you choose to get the vaccine or not is entirely your right. What isn't your right is to spread fake news online to support your theories and choices. I will always listen to arguments made by people of logic with the supporting science or data.
How would you feel, as an anit-vaxxer if through your posts, someone decides not to get the vaccine and then subsequently dies? Can you live with that on your conscious? Because I certainly don't think it's something I could be comfortable with, knowing I was responsible for the life of another.
There are enough real issues to stress about
Rather than spend your time and energy arguing about topics that have no grounding in logic or science, why not spend that time concerning yourself with actual issues? "Bring me solutions not problems." A statement I heard or stated hundreds/thousands of times during my career.
For those saying lockdown isn't necessary, how about backing up your statement with a solution? I never see people who say the government have knackered things up actually state how they would have handled things. I have in fact challenged many people online who have made that sort of comment by simply asking, "How would you have handled things?". A lot of the time I get unfollowed or blocked and most of the time I don't get responded too. It's easy to sit there, unhappy with your life, and moan about the things others do, but at least have a viable argument to back up your argument.
Given, if you were the Prime Minister, and your first act of duty is the safety of your citizens, what would you have done?
Here's what I would have done
I would have closed the borders for inbound travel to the UK as soon as the virus took hold in Europe. Sure, some cases would have entered the UK however they would have been small numbers compared to leaving traffic open for 2 months. Only valid travel allowed out of the UK (work)
Immediate tier based system and place restrictions on areas where cases we presenting themselves.
Anyone caught breaking lockdown restrictions and were in receipt of furlough would have their payments stopped. Same for those who have had any government support, for example bounce back loans etc.
Yes, I basically would have been a proper bastard in the eyes of many I'm sure.
But I reckon we would have been able to be more like New Zealand were on New Years Eve and actually be able to get together in groups to celebrate it!
Sacrifice in the short term to benefit in the long. It's simple.
So yes, in my opinion, the government haven't dealt with things well. They were too late in locking down. Too early to lift them. Eat out to help out was a mistake (I understand the idea). Should have closed schools earlier and kept them aligned to Tier restrictions.
And even though I get absolutely no benefits as I haven't yet submitted my first tax return, I am still doing my bit and listening to the advice given and restrictions I'm placed under.
Why? Not because I'm a fan of the government. Not because I'm getting help from the government. But because it's the right thing to do for others. For society. This isn't about me. I know COVID isn't personal.
Have a great 2021
My hope for 2021 is that people can get out from behind their online devices again and start having lives that include socialising with others. That the need to find issues where there aren't any can reduce somewhat as people start feeling more positive about the future.
I wish it is a successful one for you, however you define success.