2 September 2021

In lockdown land, it's the little things that are the most annoying

| Zoya Patel
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The Know in Watson

The Knox in February 2020 – days before COVID-19 became changed the world. Photo: Daniella Jukic, We Are Found.

The life of an opinion writer in lockdown is a confusing mess of minor gripes and complaints that contrast poorly with the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in. It feels trivial to get narky at my neighbour’s insistence on putting a basketball hoop in the narrow shared driveway behind our townhouses when COVID is ripping through the community and lockdown seems endless.

But the slower pace does highlight the little things that can significantly improve or mar the day when there’s so little in life to look forward to aside from food and a daily walk.

For example, waiting for my drive-through coffee from The Knox in Watson a few days ago, I was appalled to see people sitting in the small courtyard, eating their pastries unmasked in the sunshine. The wowser in me wanted to sanctimoniously ask if it was ‘essential’ that they eat outside in public, instead of leaving with their baked goods and eating at their own homes.

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But equally, I know how frustrating it is to be circling the same environment all day and night and couldn’t begrudge someone a moment of variety in an otherwise dull week. My desire to be a good citizen battled with my desire to not be a jerk to people just trying to get through lockdown. The latter won.

A relative took to our group chat recently to point out the various ways in which having more people walking on shared paths as a result of lockdown restrictions means everyone’s annoying and inconsiderate behaviour is more apparent. Like bike riders insisting on riding fast down footpaths instead of moving to the road, or the many people who are walking poorly behaved dogs off lead in busy areas, making it hard for my relative to keep his own anxious dogs (who were on lead) calm. It was enough to take the pleasure out of the walk, anyway.

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Dwelling on the minor annoyances like these is making me wonder if the fact that our ordinary lives are busier and often less locally focused (people exercising in gyms instead of outdoors, or during work hours in other locations, for example) actually shelters us from some of the regular interaction with strangers that we’re now forced into.

I’ve definitely noticed an increased stream of emails from my body corporate in the sterile townhouse complex I live in, with complaints from neighbours about absolutely everything – from people parking in visitor spots, to dogs barking, to cats prowling, to children being unsupervised on the driveway, the list goes on.

Usually we just ignore each other and most of us aren’t around during the day to notice the things that are now irritating us. With extra time on our hands, we’re realising that living this close to hundreds of strangers is less than ideal.

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I’d like to think that lockdown presents a chance for us to take stock, go with the flow, and focus on the bigger picture. But instead, it seems like we’re getting more antagonistic. Perhaps it’s a natural reaction to feeling helpless about the major decisions that are changing the way we live our lives and gives us some control in the areas where it’s achievable.

I know that in that context, I’m being particularly brutal when it comes to demanding household cleaning outcomes from my partner, and have decided it’s a good time to try to retrain my adult dog out of territorial barking (which he’s finding somewhat confusing given we didn’t seem to care before when he howled at delivery people).

The fact is that psychologically, there are a lot of unknowns to process right now, and the monotony of lockdown life – despite clearly being a privilege, compared to those dealing with the chaos of homelessness or insecure employment as a result of the pandemic – is exacerbating many a miserly viewpoint.

What are the little things that are sparking your temper in lockdown? And are there others that you’ve just had to let go of?

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Off-leash dogs on foot/cycle paths while I’m walking my ‘leashed’ dogs (these are usually also the culprits for dog doodies being left on the ground as the owners are unaware that they’ve poo’d). And Cyclists flying between pedestrians without a courtesy bell to let you know they’re coming….Oh, and people not wearing masks in shops.

In Gustave Gilbert’s book ‘Nuremberg Diary’, Nazi Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring is quoted as saying: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Now the threat is a virus and now those who want to maintain normal life are the ones being denounced by the fearful and the authoritarian.

silly is as silly does.

The Virus is a real threat to people’s health, …

and, so are you!

I’ve been stuck at home , with my wife for a good long while. A month or so ago we added son2 and his dog – Rufus, the American Staffordshire

I have, the net*, manifestly and a library of books. 5 book shelves on either side of me, and the Mt Taylor nature reserve and Mt Taylor Estate, and Kambah Village shops I can walk to.

Whinge, whinge, whine, complain.

Many thousands of young Australian males and a good few thousand women have, twice in our history, volunteered to help our country survive. I think that spirit is alive and well, because the whining minority is just that.

To whit, I am completely and utterly not with, all this whining and moaning, about the necessary, sensible and not very stringent, covid policies.

If you live in a part of Canberra subject to fires and have a Community Fire Unit and its yellow trailer nearby. Guess who helped start all that?

Capital Retro1:18 pm 02 Sep 21

Lat time I checked obesity wasn’t caused by a virus. If it was the whole world would be obese.

Obesity raises the risks of a virus.
From Lancet:

“Our findings from this large population-based cohort emphasise that excess weight is associated with substantially increased risks of severe COVID-19 outcomes, and one of the most important modifiable risk factors identified to date. ” https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(21)00089-9/fulltext

Capital Retro4:22 pm 02 Sep 21

That’s interesting and so is the fact that In 2017-18, 67.0% of Australian adults were overweight or obese. Tasmania had the highest rate of adults who were overweight or obese (70.9%), compared with Australian Capital Territory (64.0%) who had the lowest.

If we (ACT) have the lowest rate of obesity in Australia then how come we have the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate?

The only thing that annoys me is those that sit on their moral high horses lambasting anti-vaxxers. While that level of logic may apply to diseases such as polio and measles to keep herd immunity above 95%, such a threshold is folly with regard to COVID-19. The reason being it is impossible to have that level of coverage across the globe especially as it has become endemic and will constantly mutate in response to a non-sterilising vaccine.

I’m obviously not anti-vax but the fact that others are only benefits me given there is limited supply in Australia and also around the world. I’m patiently waiting for my booster shot as it is increasingly likely that immunity wanes over time so more anti-vaxxers means one less in the queue. It’s folly to protect everyone in society and rather a test of survival of the fittest.

Sam, while there certainly is an element of logic in your point, the vast majority of cases that are ending up in very expensive ICU units have not been vaccinated.

Their pig headed stupidity will most likely continue to cost as all money for a long time, as well as using using resources that could be better expended on other more worthy people.

And I would guess there is an environmental cost for the resources being expended for these ICU cases.

So in general, anti-vaxers are (pretty close to literally) a bunch of oxygen thieves.

CaptainSpiff12:31 pm 02 Sep 21

I wonder how you feel about obese people? Are they also oxygen thieves because they consume health care resources? What about maintaining rescue services for people who go hiking and make bad decisions along the way? Let them die out in the woods? I don’t think many of us want to live in such a society. If people make bad decisions, we still do our best to help them.

It’s well known at this point that vaccine effectiveness is not total, and declines more quickly that one would like (with time measured in months). It’s known that the delta variant has had no problem spreading in highly vaccinated populations like Israel and UK. There is also credible research coming out of Israel showing that natural immunity is far superior against Covid variants, than vaccine-based immunity.

To have a fixed and ideological stance on Covid vaccines at this point, is just plain dumb.

I am pro-vaccine, but under no conditions will I support mandates for others to get vaccinated. It is a decision for everyone to make on their own, without government coercion.

Do you think that once we are ready to open up at 70% vaccinated the remaining 30% all comprise anti-vaxxers? Because they certainly will be labelled as such and the attitude towards unvaccinated people will be one of complete contempt. In reality that 30% will likely be mostly children or those that were not able to access the vaccine in time but if offered the opportunity, almost all would accept the jab of their choice.

I don’t have statistics to back it up and I wouldn’t trust any polls on anti-vax sentiment given people have propensity to say one thing and do another but I’d guess that the number of true anti-vaxxers are few and far between. Less than 1% of the population. I’m just highlighting that when we do open up society has a knack for searching for scapegoats and victim blaming and the 30% left out will be subjected to extreme discrimination and lack of empathy. There will be a general idea that if you aren’t vaccinated them tough luck you had your chance and this will be the society and community spirit we’ll be living in.

This article is all about attacking our neighbours for petty grievances and annoyances and this is unfortunately the society we will be faced with in the future. The days of charity and goodwill have gone.

Obesity is a very complex issue made all the more complex by the fact that food is essential, we need to consume it, and there are millions of dollars spent each year on advertising what are arguably poor food choices.

Trying to lose weight typically involves significant lifestyle changes and continuous effort.

This is vastly different from refusing to listen to the medical experts on vaccination and then taking a couple of hours to go and the the injections.

Personally I think it is rather insulting to relate the complexities and efforts required for an obese person to change their lifestyle and lose weight, to the trivial effort required to get vaccinated.

Way to go, Spiral, stick it to him.

Mandating vaccinations shouldn’t be necessary in an educated society.

The current proposals on Vaccination rates and opening up (70%, 80%) are based on the population above 16. So no, the remaining unvaccinated people will not be children who aren’t counted. They will mostly be people over 16 who have chosen for whatever reason to remain unvaccinated.

This may not make them anti-vaxxers but it also doesn’t say much for their decision making capabilities.

Considering the amount of pain that we have been through as a society, why do you think additional charity should be extended to those who are partially responsible for extending and exacerbating that pain?

Chewy, I don’t consider any charity necessary. In fact I’ve always lived by the maxim to look after number one and haven’t ever donated a cent to a single charity. All I’m saying we should be encouraging anti-vaxxers and feeding their fallacies so that we remain in the 70% and I get my booster shots.

The problem with that is that the unvaccinated become the main virus vectors spreading it amongst the community.

This is really a case where everyone (or as close to it) needs to be on board. In some ways it’s far more advantageous from a personal (and selfish) perspective for everyone to be vaxxed. If you’re thinking of number 1, you should want everyone around you to be protected also.

Considering the ramp up in worldwide vaccine production, it’s extremely unlikely that any Australians won’t have access to boosters.

Chewy, incorrect. The world has over 6 billion people. It is impossible to get the majority vaccinated. Therefore it is not in my interests to have others around me vaccinated when there is barely enough supply to go around. I’d prefer if vaccinations weren’t free so the wealthier members of society to vaccinate our entire families with multiple boosters each year. Getting the world vaccinated to eliminate covid just isn’t realistic and as much a pipe dream as asking everyone to pitch in $5 to solve world poverty.

No it’s totally correct because we are fortunate to live in a wealthy first world nation that can afford it regardless of the worldwide position.

Also, you’re probably being too pessimistic around supply. Pfizer are planning to produce 4 billion shots in 2022 and Moderna are planning 3 billion.

TLDR version – we are a nation of Ned Flanders who think we are a nation of Ned Kelly’s.

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