The conundrum is that not that many deaths will come from any single gathering. Most ppl who get SARS-CoV-2 don’t get symptoms, TINY % die. But millions of chains of reaction will begin, which will cause mass deaths far from point of contact, disconnecting sense of consequence.
I worry that after Thanksgiving, ppl may say “No one died in my family” after a week and think if their peeps get sick ltr that must be bc OTHER ppl weren’t “safe.” My colleagues @_karmacap and @Mustanski taught me about the “‘’known partners are safe partners’ heuristic.”
We often think the ppl close to us are “safe” and we can’t contract HIV, SARS-Co-V2, influenza etc from them bc we know them. Of course we’re most likely to transmit viruses to ppl we are intimate with.
So the coming days will create (tens of? hundreds of?) millions of interactions that could lead to (tens of?) millions of infections. There will be events where many get sick at once. But much larger will be chains of reactions to which it’s hard to feel cause & effect.
It’s a real problem, whenever a health consequence (lung cancer, birth) is far removed from a pleasurable activity like smoking or sex. How to connect the cause and consequence w/o fear or stigma, which aren’t helpful motivators? Pain is helpful in keeping us from self harm...
...when we feel the heat of fire get too hot, it tells our bodies that we should pull back so we don’t hurt ourselves. It’s helpful information. But we don’t have any such sensory inputs with virus transmissions. Understanding it is very cerebral and abstract, often removed.
If we try to scare people that they will kill their grandmother and then they DON’T kill their grandmother when they gather inside, it might fuel more gatherings.

Better to think about the well-being of our collective being & to attend to that, but THAT’S no easy task, either.
It’s easy to imagine any of us wanting to do nothing that puts others at risk. But many of us do. I used to fly all the time bc I could afford to & enjoy travel. Surely all that travel added to asthma rates that harmed or killed others. I did it anyway.
I did it because I liked to fly, as many people like to drive. If we stayed more still there would be less chance of climate catastrophe, less asthma, less pollution. But it’s hard to stop the pleasure of travel to stop someone else’s asthma wheezing months or years later.
What I’m asking myself in my book (which seems the best place to start b4 asking whole society) is, how can I think of “me” less as “me” but to think of all of us (human/non-human animals) on this earth as forming a collective being which exists across time & space? Not easy.
But more immediately, if gatherings don’t cause immediate death & stigmatizing fear mongering doesn’t help, what sensory inputs can help us to know we are in immediate danger, like the heat of a flame? @Ethnography911 got me thinking about sirens
I also feel like much more mourning is needed. Urgently. So many are suffering. But in private. Like much of neoliberalism we are made to grieve and mourn alone. A quarter million ppl have died just from the disease directly in the US but you wouldn’t know it from the culture.
What if we were openly mourning and grieving—not to scare or shame or beat each other into submission, but to feel the collective consequence of what we are collectively experiencing, rather than to make everyone figure it out (or not) on their own?
What if this T Day and Christmas, for a God damn change, weren’t about Hallmark movies and shopping or the Crown or butterball turkeys it war metaphors, but were about sitting shiva nationally & mourning & taking stock of our reality & what it needs?
What if every family or person wasn’t left to figure out the spiritual and mortal dimensions of this abstract, wild, lethal virus with the time delayed consequences on our own?
Correction—ought to have said many, not most, ppl who contract this virus will not get symptoms.
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