Just because you’re not the worst guideline breaker doesn’t make you good

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Though these students of the past weren’t breaking any rules, the same gathering today would violate COVID-19 guidelines, from more than one person in a dorm to the lack of masks. A dangerous group of people are the ones who feel guilt for breaking COVID-19 guidelines but continue to do so regardless. File photo/The Daily Campus

We’ve all seen the videos throughout the last year, made by incredibly selfish people who really don’t seem to care that their actions can literally cause people to lose their lives. In this fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, they are the absolute worst of the worst, and frankly, there’s not much that can be done to get them to change. However, there is another very dangerous group of people, and those are the ones who feel guilt for their actions, but continue to break guidelines anyway.  

On the occasion I’ve ended up in conversation with someone like this, the exchange is usually similar, and it always has some kind of excuse. The most common is to point to those who are worse offenders, such as giant super-spreader events and exclaiming “I don’t go to those things!” Another popular excuse is that, in order to preserve one’s mental health, some rules need to be bent. Some don’t even provide an excuse, but take pride in the fact that they’re secretive about their offenses, supposedly thinking that being obnoxious is the problem. 

For those who choose only to go to small gatherings without masks, I’d like you to consider how many people you can affect without even knowing them.  Sure, maybe you’re in a pod of 10 people, but how many people do those people know? All it would take is one slip up somewhere along the line, and a giant web of people now have a connection to a possible spreader. Sure, you’re not all at the same event, but just as one break in an electrical wire matrix can break the whole system, one mistake can bring the whole bubble down, and any others who may come into contact with any member would also get put in totally unnecessary danger. 

Mental health is a tricky, but still pretty straightforward issue. Yes, this is a year that has been horrible for many people’s mental states, but there are many ways to help with this. Calling friends, meeting in a socially distanced manner with masks or just texting are examples of things you can do to help alleviate the pain. There is absolutely no one whose only way of feeling better involves breaking guidelines – there is always a safer alternative. It stinks for sure, but the alternative involves putting innocent people in danger, and that’s just not ok. 

Last is the worst group of all, those who feel guilt and try to hide their offenses. Not only is this an incredibly cowardly act, but it also brings us back to the first point, and the people in the small groups. All it takes is one of these selfish people in your group, and all of a sudden everyone begins to be exposed without even knowing. 

The bottom line is that in order to make this pandemic go away as quickly as possible, we need a mixture of transparency and accountability that everyone needs to subscribe to. We don’t need people pretending to be good, because really they’re worse than the partiers at super spreader events –at least those people are transparent about what they do (I’m not at all condoning these actions obviously). Alongside a need for this tandem of transparency and accountability, we just need common sense. Understanding that sometimes the guidelines aren’t able to cover everything is important, and if you decide to do something you think is wrong just because your state’s guidelines don’t mention it—know that that’s stupid and you’re being selfish. 

Frankly, if I was in charge of keeping people accountable, I’d add harsher legal repercussions for those who don’t comply, but it’s incredibly disappointing that I’d have to do that in the first place. Everyone knows how serious this is, and we’ve all been dealing with it for so long, so why don’t we all just do our parts –completely, and without any asterisks. 

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