The COVID Show

A photo of a woman out on the street with a patterned fabric mask on to protect from COVID. She is standing with her bike.
Photo by Thomas de LUZE.

Has anyone else noticed that there are two aspects to our COVID precautions?

There are the actual precautions and then there is the performance of the precautions.

The precautions themselves are pretty straightforward:

- we meet up with friends in a park and stay six feet apart, each bringing our own snacks.

- we wash our hands for 20 seconds when we get to our workplace, which is fully set up for safe physical distancing.

- we carefully pick a friend to "bubble" with, ensuring that we are on the same page about precautions and comfort levels.

- we wear face masks when we go grocery shopping.

Then there's the performance:

- when we take a selfie at that park hang, we stand a lot more than six feet apart so that it is really obvious in the picture.

- all of our social media posts have captions like, "a wonderful (distanced, outdoor) hang!" and "bubble buddies!"

- we make a point of sanitizing parts of our workstation that we haven't touched in weeks and probably won't touch today just so any coworker who is paying attention can see that we are keeping it clean!

- we don't hug a friend who is actually in our bubble, because we're out somewhere people might not know we are bubbled and we don't want to give the wrong idea.

- we simply don't post about something because it might not be totally obvious that we followed the rules and we don't want to give anyone scrolling past the wrong idea.

Our showy demonstration of following the rules is part avoiding judgement and part subtly making a point to everyone else. The performance is, in many ways, as important as actually following the rules: it reinforces our social contract for safety and lets everyone know we aren't making things worse.

I love to see it.

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