How COVID-19 Ruined My Worldview


Joshua Mellin on Creative Commons

People dine at Big Star Restaurant on June 10, 2020, in Wicker Park, Chicago.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a relentless optimist. I could find the bright side blindfolded in a dark room. My father says I “always have something to look forward to,” whether that be a summer trip or the bagel I’ll have for breakfast tomorrow. And while I’ve tried to stay positive in light of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m finding it nearly impossible to have any faith in the American people. 

Growing up, I was taught that most people—besides the strangers I should never, ever talk to—are good, and I clung to that for a long time. My dad once told me that most people, at the end of the day, “just want to go home and see their families.” But thanks to coming of age in the coronavirus pandemic, I know now that only some of that is true. 

We all know the anti-maskers who cause arguments in stores and shout of their “oppression” on the street.  According to surveys by the Pew Research Center, 30 percent  of adult Americans don’t plan on getting vaccinated, with the demographic least likely to get vaccinated being white evangelicals—  the most privileged group of people least affected by the pandemic. 

I know that some of these people are victims of patriotic brainwashing and misinformation. While I might forgive a little nervous or outdated ignorance, many of those who make up these percentages have refused to listen to reputable sources or actively spread misinformation themselves. 

Contrary to what my dad said, apparently people don’t want to see their families or friends, and they certainly don’t care if other peoples’ families stay alive. They want the “freedom” to shop in a grocery store without the Oppressive Government Mandated Communist Mask, and they don’t care if people die from it.  

Especially in a modern age where all the information we could ever need sits at our fingertips, few have any excuse to pretend that they don’t have access to reputable, scientifically reviewed works. It’s a willing ignorance, in which they’ve chosen selfishness over selflessness and sensationalism over reason. 

How can this be the same humanity that I once believed to be good and kind? How can the American people move forward when we won’t listen to science and reason? 

Well, I’ve looked at every side and searched for every optimistic answer. I want to believe in America, and I want to believe in progress, kindness, goodness and hope.

But I can’t. The future looks, from each side, entirely and completely bleak. 

To be fair, it’s not just the pandemic that’s changed me. It’s the epidemic of misinformation and sensationalism, the injustices of late-stage capitalism that will only ever put profit over people, the unyielding grip of white supremacy, the failure to take action toward the constant threat of climate change, the steadiness of queerphobia— the list goes on and on. If we keep going like this, we won’t be going anywhere. 

And of course I believe that there are still good people out there. But somehow, the ignorant and malicious ones seem to be louder and prouder. I want to have hope in good people and I want to have hope in good progress. I want, more than anything, to have the hope I had just a year and a half ago. 

But America seems intent on proving to me, over and over again, that I can’t.