But People Die All The Time: COVID-19 and the Neil deGrasse Tyson Approach to Tragedy.

Photo Source: Al Jazeera, 2020

Yeah okay, but…

COVID-19 is upon us and every armchair epidemiologist has come out to play. I wanted to write this piece because my news feed has been inundated with friends undermining coronavirus deaths and claiming it’s no big deal. Firstly, I need new friends. Secondly, why is this a go-to for some folks? I think that people love to feel superior in the face of panic and uncertainty. Portraying themselves as a steady rock chock full of rationality is not necessarily harmful, but is it helpful when much of the world is put in quarantine? No. Not at all. I’d argue that making fun of the public for panicking and offering pointless statistics makes you look like a dick. Suddenly, the sane intellectual you see every day in the mirror while you jack off is replaced with a smug asshole who crashes funerals. That’s no way to garner respect let alone live your life, but hey I’m just some SJW who can’t take a joke or think critically, right? I want to address this phenomenon that I’ve labelled The Neil deGrasse Tyson Approach and how it hinders both positive action and human compassion.

Why Neil deGrasse Tyson? He’s just a personable science dude who doesn’t deserve to get picked on like this! Tyson has taken cues from the likes of Richard Dawkins in that he makes statements that seem intellectual, but only serve to make him look like a tool. Granted, Tyson hasn’t made arguments for eugenics or molestation like Dawkins (yet), but they both like to weigh in on subjects with the same smug derision of an internet troll who just dunked on the libs. This tweet from Tyson shown above came after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio in 2019. It was met with almost universal anger as it should have been because it’s not helpful in the slightest. Neil deGrasse Tyson chose to use his influence to peddle anti-panic rhetoric in the guise of rationality which is dangerous and unproductive. His apology afterwards was half-assed too, but it’s clear he didn’t mean a word of it so fuck him. Anyway, these “it’s no so bad” statements have been showing up constantly among my friends and acquaintances even as numbers continue to grow for both confirmed cases and deaths. Why though? Does your supposed intellectual superiority matter here? Does the coronavirus somehow distinguish between the panicked and the stable? For your sake, I hope it does.

We should definitely trust these muppets WAY more than the CDC. Photo Source: Business Insider, 2020.

It’s no wonder that people think this way when mainstream news outlets have been touting the safety of coronavirus for weeks. Our good friends at Fox News, a beacon for wholesome State propaganda, were some of the biggest anti-panic proponents until just recently. On May 13th, Ainsley Earhardt urged people to fly because “Everyone I know that’s flying right now — terminals are pretty much dead, ghost towns.” This was said despite Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) telling people to avoid planes unless “absolutely necessary.” Sean Hannity, professional Trump french kisser, used his Thursday show to tout COVID-19 as just another attack against Trump. Hannity claimed “Since the beginning, all they’ve done is use the virus, politicize the virus to bludgeon President Trump. All the same people who have done the same thing for three straight years. … Russia, Russia. Ukraine, Ukraine. And impeach, impeach. Now, corona, corona.” Surprisingly, Ainsley was back on Fox News yesterday to urge people to “think of other people during this time” and “help our country as a nation.” I’m sure her change of heart had nothing to do with Trump’s National Emergency declaration despite him calling it a hoax earlier. She was probably visited by 3 coughing ghosts during the weekend and vowed to change her ways. Anyway, I wanted to use Fox as one example for how this kind of apathy and smug pseudo intellectualism doesn’t just spring out of nowhere.

I’m not against sharing memes here. Let’s just get that out of the way cause I’m sure someone will wonder how I feel about all of the jokes. Humour is a great way for us to deal with stressful and unpredictable situations. Memes about COVID-19 and our new quarantined lives are created mostly in good fun (like the one above which really called me out), but there are plenty that turn racist real quick so I find it best to ignore those. The majority of memes are not attacking the people who have succumbed to the coronavirus or the folks who are scared for their vulnerable friends and family members. Posts like Tyson’s or the other statistic image are the opposite (I wouldn’t even call them memes) and use numbers to undermine people’s fears and insecurities while downplaying the people who have already died. It’s not positive and it’s not made to start conversations as so many defenders claim. These might as well be called vanity pieces. The “people die every day” argument isn’t respectable or rational and it only serves the anti-science and anti-social change agendas.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

So what can you do instead of being smug in the face of reported cases and an increasing death toll? You can help your family, friends, and neighbours. It’s the least you can do. Check in on your loved ones and offer your services. Groups are being formed on social media to help folks who are under strict quarantine with groceries, health care, sanitary items, and companionship so look them up. Support businesses by ordering delivery from local restaurants that are struggling with a lack of in-house traffic. Homeless shelters, food banks and soup kitchens are seeking monetary donations to keep things up and running and to benefit their clients who are extremely susceptible with no real place to quarantine. Even if you do as much as you can from the comfort of your home, you are at least attempting to make a difference instead of trying to impress yourself. Choose compassion during this stressful time and everyone will benefit.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you again. Solidarity, my friends.

X.S.

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