Opinion: An open letter to the selfish people


The Catalyst / Jay Santiago

Social distancing is important. Anything else is just selfish.

Dear selfish people,

We are in the middle of a global pandemic. The United States and the rest of the world have run rampant with the novel coronavirus, a virus capable of killing anyone who contracts it. For obvious reasons, California Governor Gavin Newsom (amongst several other state governors) has put the state under a shelter-in-place order since mid-March, requiring people to stay in their homes. People are only allowed to leave for “essential” purposes, where they must (in most counties) wear masks and physically distance themselves at least six feet away from anyone with whom they do not reside.

Let’s take a second to review what is included under the broad umbrella of the “essential” purpose. Shopping for groceries, visiting the doctor’s office, doing exercise, and getting take-out from restaurants, amongst other things, are all deemed essential services that people are allowed to leave their homes for. Considering the fact that almost the entire world is struggling with a virus that has killed over 285,000 people, we should be grateful that we are even allowed to leave our homes at all. 

So, my question is, why are you defying this already relatively-lenient shelter-in-place order?

As a teenager, this pandemic and shelter-in-place order have definitely hit me hard. Not only do I fear the possibility of contracting the virus, but I also feel lonely and isolated from the rest of the world. I have not seen most of my friends in over two months. The only friends I have seen are the ones who are willing to sit on the opposite end of my driveway and talk to me for a little while. Therefore, I completely understand the desire for the world to return back to normal and ease back into my usual social life.

As tempting as it sounds to drive over to my friends’ homes and squeeze them as tightly as I possibly can, I will refrain from doing so until the end of this pandemic. I will refrain not only because I am required to by the State of California, but also because I understand that the virus can easily be spread from person-to-person without anyone showing symptoms. If I unknowingly catch it then go out in public with my friends, I could be putting everyone at risk. That would be a pretty selfish thing for me to do, right?

What pains me most is the number of people that I know personally being selfish like that. 

Driving with your friends to take pictures in a public area in the middle of a global pandemic does not make you look cool. It makes you look like you only care about indulging in whatever makes you happy without caring about the safety of others. 

Going over to your friend’s house to make videos in the middle of this pandemic does not make you look fun. It makes you look like a fool who couldn’t care less about the lives of others while you attempt to go viral online. 

You may think I am being dramatic by saying that seeing your friends and not social distancing is risking the lives of the people around you. You may think that there is no harm in what you are doing. While it is quite likely that you and all of your friends are completely healthy, there is still an entirely plausible possibility that one of you is not. 

It only takes one person to infect everyone around them. Infection is like a domino effect or a chain reaction. While you and all your friends may be strong enough to fight off the virus, take a second to think about everyone else. The second one of you brings that virus home, you could easily infect your entire family. Maybe your family is all healthy enough to fight it off too. But maybe they are not. 

The next time you think about going out to hang with your friends, think about the real impact of that decision. Think about the selfless health care workers who are risking their own lives to heal others. Remember that the more you go out, the longer this will persist. So please, for the sake of the world, do not be the person who furthers this horrific pandemic. 

Stay home.