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A sense of Social Responsibility equal to Leeroy Jenkins

          I take the threat of COVID-19 seriously. I have to. The virtual experiences I relayed above contribute highly to why I do. The fact that I can’t point in the faces of everyone I personally know affected by this and just spout “Nope. It’s a hoax.” further spurns me onto altruistic action. But not everyone shares my appraisal nor my experiences be they digital or otherwise. I wanted to delete everything under this heading and shelve this article by extension. People who can be swayed by knowledge were at the beginning. Those that didn’t want to hear it clamored broadly for “information” and “proof” that permitted them to live unfettered. The ongoing denial and heartlessness I perceive has made this section the hardest to write. It has taken weeks. I am frustrated and don’t even want to pen the tripe I deal with even for the sake of discussion. Thus forgive if this is a little more… disjointed than my norm.

          I would like to say that those that ignore COVID are full of hubris. But that would require that they take the pandemic seriously. People are losing their lives and they act as though is not a big deal. At least not enough to warrant changing their lives. All the while they try to downplay COVID’s impact and prove that The Left, ‘lamestream’ media, and everyone outside their bubble is lying.

          This lengthy aside was penned in the midst of editing this piece. For the first time during this pandemic I actually went to look at this CDC page, and at least the address looks legitimate. Posted by a person that I’ve accepted I will always oppose, it came attached with a blurb. Said blurb stated that the CDC “quietly adjusted their Corona Virus death numbers”. The change docks the mortality rate to 6% as that is the percentage of people that died solely from COVID-19. This accounts for 9210 deaths of the 183,005 total previously reported. The remaining 172,000 had other pre-existing illnesses.
          This is being lauded as some “Gotcha!” revelation. As though the CDC is some anti-American force. People dying solely from COVID or only as a contributing issue should not be a feather in the cap of anyone, yet it is for them. It was still a factor in all those deaths and as a societal threat should be treated accordingly. This whole subset of the population loves drama, previously gift wrapped answers, and silver bullets in spades to their problems. They love their sausage but hate knowing how it’s made. Science is messy. Science can be wrong in the Now. But science is a process. It gets more detailed. I look at the fact that the CDC made this change to be proof of growth. They are making a record of more accurate information as they learn it. Maybe if they hadn’t been so grossly hamstrung in the years leading up to this the problem would not be in such an unbalanced magnitude now.

          I’ve watched this same crowd say that all government should be respected from a desk jockey or beat cop all the way up to the president, gleefully cackle and repost Obama being lynched and burned in effigy, and flip again when their #1 Guy Trump came into the picture. I actively yet vainly point out how what they share and espouse hurts me or how my experience differs. And even though people are dying from COVID, they want to split hairs that we don’t need to shut down because it’s ‘not that serious’. All along the way they’ve refused, what I find to be, every reasonable measure from every reasonable source.

          For the first time since the movie came out in theaters I recalled Agent K from Men in Black.

Agent K: “Humans, for the most part, don’t have a clue. They don’t want one or need one either. They’re happy. They think they have a good bead on things.”
James Darrell Edwards III, not yet Agent J: “Well why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.”
Agent K: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. 1,500 years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago everybody knew the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

          I personally don’t know if we will make it. But I’ll try to be strong enough and make it worthwhile for those that follow.

And finally… I digress.

          Long famed and oft-referenced, Leeroy Jenkins is the subject character of a video that even predates Corrupted Blood in WoW’s history. It opens on a guild, Pals for Life, discussing how to defeat a group of enemies to get an armor piece that will help Leeroy. The whole of this phase he is absent. His barreling headlong into the boss chamber negates all strategy, and the party is wiped out. Trying to be responsible feels futile because I watch people rush in, everyone else be damned.

‘COVID-19 is a hoax. And if it isn’t, it isn’t as bad as the media makes it out to be. And if it is those stupid, flimsy masks aren’t enough to protect you so I won’t bother wearing one. And if they do help then there’s no point in social distancing. But none of the above really matters because there’s already a cure for COVID.”

Roll Safe - Ounce of COVID Prevention

At the time of writing this COVID…

…has killed the step-father of a friend, while their mother and sister fortunately recovered.

…has infected a friend I used to party with.

…has infected an acquaintance I know in passing.

…has infected two family members of a friend from an online game.

…has killed two family members of another friend from the same online game.

…is something my in-game wife keeps track of as knowledge for her job as she is a nurse.

          I’ve minced words elsewhere and adhered to decorum and politeness. But here in this place let me say unequivocably so there is no confusion:

COVID-19 is real.

It is a persistent threat. Denial of this fact for any reason displays a deficiency in your being. Refusing to do all within your power to stop it shows a callousness in the mind, heart, spirit, and soul. This goes from the individual level all the way up to the highest echelons of government. This is not a stance I hold. I do not make this statement with weapons drawn ready to die on a given hill. It is the truth like the sun rising and setting over the respective horizons.

The mere portent of death is too much. We should always do what we can to stave it off, individually and societally.

          COVID-19 is indeed real and I’m doing my part to prevent the spread. Wearing a mask when I go out and social distancing the whole while. Adhering to a self-quarantine between social engagements to ensure that I am not asymptomatic. It feels silly sometimes, akin to donating comic books during ongoing war efforts so the paper could be recycled into something else. But one of the few powers I have consistently held is the power to do good on a small scale. And it may be a meager existence compared to what some have or even what most want, but there is existence. Persistent, continual life. And there I find hope.

          Being asked to stay at home and put mindful limits on social interactions, both in frequency and size, is not oppression. Protests are being oppressively dispersed. Being corralled with tear gas so thick it stings you miles off-site the next morning and baton rounds being shot straight onto people, which is not how they are designed to be used safely, is oppression. There are no police in riot gear backed up with military surplus when you opt for a trip to Old Navy or Applebee’s. Staying at home with all your stuff, comforts, and personal internet while having Amazon and multiple culinary outlets still delivering is not oppression. This isn’t even banning small scale get-togethers, not like they effectively could. Above all, acting mindfully and with wisdom is what is called for. Even if the government comes down and says that churches shouldn’t congregate, I would hope that concern for the fellowship and wider community would be enough for churches to volunteer to not have services. This would be practicing the preaching of “love your neighbor as yourself” I would think.

          This isolation hampering work is terrible. There are a lot of small businesses that are going to have to be necromanced back into being once this is all over if they can at all. People still have bills to pay and food to buy. It’s been a terrible revelation to see the machine fall apart in less than a couple months. I thought that I was unstable living paycheck to paycheck, but it looks like it was the whole system. And the US government has, all around, done scant little to assist. From what little I have seen the checks that were sent out were more of a “tax advance” and will have to be paid back. There has been more state and local responses than Federal, and it all adds to my wonder of what the point of this society is. Paying into it is doing little good now when it really counts.

          Wearing a mask is nowhere akin to wearing a “slave muzzle” as I have seen it touted. (An aside. I’ve seen uncertainty if this picture accurately depicts Anastacia, but this does not detract from the stated point.) Masks are not a stairstep to acclimating us to wearing hijabs and forcing conversion to Islam. You are not a sheep or any less American because you do something that shows, very visibly, that you actually give a damn about people you come across in daily life. If you’re worried that wearing them is just captruing germs that you’re rebreating, then get a big box of disposable masks and… you know… DISPOSE of them as intended. You’re not supposed to buy some flimsy mask and wear it forever. Medical professionals do that. You aren’t either. And if you’re like me and were too broke to buy masks and you opted to just use a square yard of cloth folded and tied to make a makeshift bandana wash it regularly, if not every time you return an outing. Masks are not about protecting yourself. Wearing them is about preventing harm to others. That’s why you wear them when you walk into and through a restaurant but not once you sit down at your seating area. It’s not ideal, but it’s how businesses are getting by since the government won’t keep things closed, supporting businesses large and small to do so, and since there is a subset of the public demanding it. “This is stupid!” you meme. What is ideal then? Staying home and making your own bloody Bloomin’ Onions.

          If your concern is just yourself, then stay at home. Avoid people. Distance yourself from society. No, your favorite taco joint won’t be there when you want a change of pace. No, your hairstylist can’t squeeze you in at 11 because you’ve felt frumpy and a blow out will set you right. But here’s the thing, if we all did our part, everyone will be around when we can come together again. That shared suffering would be a hallmark of a generation. Something we made it through together. But instead, it is very much yet another point of division. You can stand not having every pleasurable dopamine influx at your fingertips until this all gets sorted out. I assure you, your hairdresser and employees of your taco bar get by with much less and make it just fine.

          I am tired of seeing temporary limits likened to oppression. It is telling how readily they say their temporary lessening of ease is as bad as slavery, genocide, repression/oppression, and cultural erasure. This is a further frustration when it is those with these cries style themselves as patriots, laud their selfish acts as protests juxtaposing those they shout down, all while extending the need for the limitations they so abhor. I have had people shy away from me my whole life. Cross the street to avoid walking with arms’ reach of me. Quarantine is nothing new to me. But that is yet another article for a later time.
          If you didn’t have some chronic malady or severe abuse that hampered your life before this, or worse you scoffed and decried those who cited such dis-eases as reasons to not go as hard as you do all the time, then don’t suddenly site “medical reasons and traumatic exemptions” for not wearing a mask. Again, something similar happened in WoW. (Comprehensive event, Corrupted Blood.) People marked themselves as infected by Corrupted Blood. It began with people who held it legitimately. But “griefers” would seek out and willfully contaminate the uninfected. The uninfected would try to preempt this by marking themselves as infected so they would not be targets, but then there was no way of truly knowing who was Corrupted. In real life people that truly can’t wear masks find another way to comply. It’s the same way as with service animals. Entitled people just can’t bear to leave their widdle Rexy Schnochums alone at home or in their cars. They get them licensed on a lark. When the pets are ill-trained terrors all animals, service legitimate and no, get banned. And people who genuinely have need tend to abide by the rules and shop elsewhere or entreat respectfully for an exemption. While people that just want their way harp and crow.

          ‘Well if you’re so sick then you should stay at home. I’m going to live my life!’ This phrase has the same emphasis as a popular game-ism “You don’t pay my sub(scription)!” The person saying it usually giving themselves carte blanche to act as they see fit, even if it diminishes the enjoyment of other players because no one else is funding their subscription. I’ve seen it firsthand when a Tank, holding the attention of the main boss, instigates a mass player kill (MPK) by not keeping said boss in a single location or facing a particular way. When called on it they retort with this tired quip. The problem with this could be seen in World of Warcraft. People going off and infecting NPCs or lower-level adventures while they themselves just sold their items. No action occurs in a vacuum. People who are forced to stay at home, do. Much like you they venture out when they need to. The difference is that they are compromised even in the most sanitized settings. Even seasonal allergies are cause for concern. Thus a pandemic is cause of grave concern. So to have people flout that it doesn’t matter shows them that you think they are lesser than and not even worth the bother of any considerations. Mindfulness is a key element to social living.

          It was my understanding that the point of any given society is to work together. Pooling resources from time and labor to intellect and passion with the goal of making the world better for everyone. But I see many that have their castles and fiefdoms that now take umbrage to any perceived loss of comfort or status. I am tired of people cherry-picking which science to celebrate, often using the consumer fruits of science and renouncing the rest. Vehicles, the internet, mobile devices are fair game and free use. But medical science is selective. The CDC, an organization for which the specialization is the study of diseases and how to manage them, is somehow a questionable source. But those that have fallen from the grace of the medical community are valid and to be trusted by contrast. If you want to hold up hydroxychloroquine as a cure, prove it. Scientifically. But until that proof is coalesced and can be agreed upon by a majority, wear your masks, social distance when you have to go out and try to keep at home otherwise.

          Would we be out of the woods if everyone had knuckled down and taken steps? Maybe not, truthfully. But we would be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are countries in which everyone did what they could, from individuals, businesses, to politicians and they are now opening back up. Here in America not only are we not even in Square One, but we are walled off from much of the rest of the developed world. For their safety, we are blocked from entry. And workers that are poised to immigrate to the United States to add the value that is so often flouted are opting to seek opportunities elsewhere. They look at this country and do not see it safe for themselves, their families, economically viable nor viability in a physical health sense.

          And I realize that I sound as rabidly zealous as I accuse… Anti-Maskers to be. They would call me a bleating sheep, braying ass, or political puppet as I denounce them. They’d send me YouTube and blog links from individuals parroting their viewpoint. Or, gods forfend, more Prager U if that is even still around.
          I accept bitterly that this is the new America, one with no unified truth. I have watched videos detailing retrospectives of world history from many angles. Disease always comes up and holds sway. COVID interrupted life. And such interruption is not abided well. As such, those that decided to not wear masks decided so early. Rather than everyone hunkering down and us getting to a point in which life could pick back up, I think that we are instead in a New Normal. COVID exists and will persist. There will be those that safeguard themselves against infection. There will be those that regard this all as a hoax and a ploy and live life unchanged as before and galvanized for the rest of their lives against anything that reminds them of this time. But this pandemic will infect regardless.
          I still write this, and have many articles to go in this vein. Maybe someone in the future looking back will care. Maybe they’re not even human. Maybe it’s a yet unknown race looking through records of a ruined world and they find this and wonder what happened. I think this because I’ve lost the faith that I’ll convince any of my contemporaries. I’m not changing minds. I’m just gabbing on and on. I’ve given up, and to some degree, this does feel like a waste of time. Much like my plight with my safety, I do not foresee even loved ones dying from COVID causing even a hiccup towards changing their tune. So I’ll shake my hat at the end because all I’ve gotten from this is a deepening revelation at how hard of a fight I have ahead and how much this uphill slog will cost.


          Of late I have had a lot of catharsis in my writing, bitter though it is. My batch today is in the realization that I love video games because they let me live out my power fantasy. That fantasy is that I alone, or with a small group of people, can change the world for the better even in the face of timeless evil.
          Real life doesn’t work like that. There are no save points. No revivals. No do-overs. We can’t reset the world to a pre-COVID state. Not in any way that civilization as we recognize it continues to survive. It does not take many to do widespread, even global, harm. Those that have died are gone. Those that have survived may be permanently maligned. It will take everyone to make the world better.
          With COVID-19, however, I am seeing that the American individual is more important than the American group. Discord foments as a waste product, one produced in such amounts as to not be countered.
          It may be fun and kitschy to relate a pandemic back to my knowledge of video games. Plagues are thankfully rare in real life. Usually not long-lasting, and not wiping out the percentage of the population of the it used to though many still die until we figure out remedies. The Leeroy Jenkins bit may be funny, but the whole party died due to the brashness of a single person. Likewise, the spread of Corrupted Blood was inevitable due solely to the oversights of the dev team. Likewise, the government has dropped the ball much as Blizzard did both in preparation for the disaster and to the response of it.
          These digital disasters taught us a lot. We saw how people who are invested in their worlds react. Some were altruistic, healing others. Some were inquisitive, seeking to find solutions. Some spread the virus intentionally. But most people did so unintentionally. People that had a ‘get back to work’ mentality continued the spread, which parallels COVID. But after eliminating the Mist from Legaia, the stone sickness of Roak in Star Ocean, and many more, I cannot help but lament that I cannot convince all the people into my life to at least act in a way that errs on the side of compassion. Life isn’t a game, and that’s why I care so much.

          Maybe going ahead we all take sicknesses more seriously. People won’t be so averse to wearing masks in the flu season. We’ll be more lenient with absences. More respectful when someone evaluates that they’re too contagious for the safety of others. Pay people more so they can afford to take days off and…

Look at me.

Still hopeful in spite of it all.

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