There are no small decisions these days.
Is it ok to take my mask off for awhile when I'm out walking, as long as I put it back on as soon as I see someone else approaching? (I do this, and it reminds me of dimming my brights when I see an oncoming car.) Is it ok to sit 6 feet from my friend in the park and catch up with her in person? Is my online shopping helping to keep small businesses afloat or endangering delivery workers? Is it stupid and dangerous to pop by the store just to get a bag of tortilla chips—just this once? Should I really be using terms like "quarantine" and "lockdown" and "isolation" interchangeably?
We are all feeling our way through shifting and uncertain definitions what it means to be safe. Shared values are not enough to answer the many small questions that come up in the course of living. Yes, we care about prioritizing the safety of the most vulnerable. Yes, we will follow the latest government guidelines. But how do those beliefs apply to the choices of everyday life? As Courtney Martin wrote
recently, "I am finding this new era of constantly defining my own and assessing other people’s distancing practices befuddling and often uncomfortable. So much of it betrays my most beloved instincts."
In the beginning, the "We are all in this together" graffiti seemed like it could be true. There was one curve, and there were very specific things we could do to flatten it. Now there's a cacophony of different rules
, adaptations, concerns, and social norms—even for people living in the same city. As a health expert told the LA Times
, "The idea of safe or not safe is not black and white."
Every single thing is up for negotiation and renegotiation. It's exhausting.
Even questions like, "Are you going to vote for the Democratic nominee running against Trump?" which previously seemed to have very
straightforward answers, now require grappling. And grapple we did on this week's episode of CYG
. I talked to Laura McGann, a Vox reporter who spoke with Tara Reade last year and investigated her story. And to save you the trouble of asking, YES I am most definitely voting for Joe Biden. But I also want to have a nuanced conversation about it rather than just defensively declare my support.