As I've mentioned a few times, I'm writing a book about how journalists shaped how Canadians understand COVID. And early on, already, the theme that I keep coming back to is how individualized everything about the pandemic has been -- (thread)
The dominant narrative focuses on: individual experience (personal struggle with illness, friends' illness, losing parent, person's death, person's life, workers' death) and individual behaviour (social distance, wear a mask, don't sneeze on others, avoid others' sneeze etc.)
And while elements of this kind of narrative are good and engaging, it is also deeply problematic. It makes us conceive of this fight from an individualistic perspective, which has an obvious limit -- I'm doing everything right but the virus is still ruining my life.
Aside from the despair this sews, it also obscures the reality - that this pandemic is a story of our clusters: workplaces, religious, celebrations etc. When we gather together. In a group, the virus doesn't spread equally, infect equally or impact equally. We know this.
But we also lose sight of how to really fight this pandemic (or, how we should be demanding governments fight it on our behalves). Politicians, not wanting to lose support, don't do what they should, until they are forced to by rising cases (like Quebec).
But this really interesting piece from @zeynep (who is the best journalist writing about COVID in English) is a wake-up call -- our individualistic approach to this pandemic is not going to work. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/
Some people, but not everyone who gets COVID, are superspreaders. This is pretty obvious in how the virus has propagated. It means that the individualistic approach cannot deliver us from this crisis -- we need to focus far more on clusters and approach clusters differently.
I have said this over and over and over when talking about school infection -- getting COVID isn't magic. We all exist in society and we have contacts and viruses circulate among us, even if we don't know the parents of our kids' friends who are sick with the same cold we are
... we have to look at these groups as a whole, target those clusters that are higher risk. And where do we know the biggest spread happens? At work. It's at work. So let's reject the individualized narrative and insist that improve conditions where people are most at risk.