Dear Family Friend Who Thinks COVID is a Lie
Most people put happy wishes, family pictures, or even the odd tree decoration in their Christmas cards. Surprisingly, you sent a COVID conspiracy leaflet with yours.
It feels wrong to approach you directly about this unexpected gift. Our friendship has always been quite formal, after all. And the card was sent to my parents, not me. In other words, this letter is more for my benefit than yours. And, let’s be honest — we all have that family friend who dabbles a little too far into conspiracy theories.
To all our family friends, and especially to you, I’m not here to laugh at your beliefs. We all need something to believe in — some spark of hope to hold on to as we leave behind a terrible, terrible year.
To tell the truth, I envy you.
So please hear me out.
Honestly, I would love to believe in this leaflet. False COVID positives and inflated statistics from a lying government is a much easier enemy to digest; governments are made of humans, and humans can be punched in the face. Believing that the numbers are lies would mean I could leave the house without a sick feeling in my stomach. I could stop crying worried tears when friends post pictures of themselves in maskless crowds. I could buy my lifetime’s worth of hand sanitiser without feeling selfish.
So why do I choose to believe the science?
A big part of it is my degree in biology. The language of a pandemic was always going to be a language I understood. I had the advantage (or disadvantage) of absorbing the information as it came out — I didn’t have to wait for the translations that the majority of the world needed. Although, the R-number crochet and these slow motion 4K sneezes deserve all the love.
But ultimately, thanks to my ecology modules, I knew that Boris Johnson’s cry of “herd immunity” 12 months ago was not going to save us.
Another thing my degree taught me was how to be cynical. Maybe I look like just another blind sheep following the rules, but I actually have a lot less faith in people than you do.
The pamphlet claims that COVID is just another way for the upper class to hurt the working class. On face value, this sounds plausible. However, why then is it affecting said upper class? Why are celebrities getting sick? Do you think the government is paying these people to pretend to have COVID?
If this is all true, then this is a pretty convincing, consistent performance. You’d think one of Hollywood’s beloved would have gotten carried away and added in some boils or projectile blood vomiting by now. But that’s the not real star of the show here. I am as shocked as anyone that a government who can’t even agree on Brexit terms managed to get not only their staff, but ALL of the global superpowers in on it.
Maybe they’re being lied to as well, but in that case, who’s in charge here and what do they stand to gain? Aliens? God? A super-intelligent breed of mice who are using humans as guinea pigs to discover the secret to the universe?
But even if I discard all of this, I know people who have been affected: friends who have been ill for weeks. A 24yo who can’t work anymore because COVID left him with chronic fatigue. My mom has friends whose family members have died from it.
This leaflet asks too much of me; I can’t look at my partner’s mother, listed as high risk, and tell her that this isn’t bad.
The truth is, I don’t just envy you.
I am scared for you.
You live in a world where everyone is trying to lie to you. Your friends and family are against you, and you have to hide your children from the news. Your reality is a dystopian novel where politicians are cackling over their next brainwashing technology.
If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. And if you can see it, it is proof they are getting to you.
Whatever you believe, or choose to not believe, I promise that masks won’t kill you. The worst hand sanitiser can do is make your hands a bit dry, and shopping less means you have more time for fun things, anyway.
And maybe stop sending conspiracy leaflets with Christmas cards — it’s the wrong kind of festive surprise. Maybe stick to old-fashioned, excessive glitter instead.