Stop Saying Lockdown Is ‘Not That Hard’
“You need to stay home,” said the voiceover in an April public health ad in New York state. “It’s all they’re asking us to do. It’s not that hard.”
It’s not that hard. This (or some variant) has been a frequent refrain from officials, public health experts, and others throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The tone is a mash of encouragement and paternalism intended to convey that many of us can avoid contributing to the disease’s spread with relatively easy precautions.
It’s not that hard is true of hand washing. It’s almost always true of wearing a mask. But it is not true of lockdowns. It is not true of social distancing. It is not true of skipping Christmas or Thanksgiving or your mom’s birthday or your brother’s wedding. It’s not true of missing church and New Year’s Eve parties and eating in restaurants. It’s not true of going without regular, in-person contact with friends and loved ones.
This actually is that hard. It sucks, and we should say so.
That is not to say it’s not worth it. My household has been pretty conservative—as in careful, not Republican—about pandemic mitigation measures, conservative enough to get criticized for it both by family members and by strangers on the internet. We took advantage of the summer months to go to outdoor, masked church services, and we’ve had a limited number of friends over for bonfires in our backyard every week. I tried to stretch that stuff as long as possible into the fall, but I live in Minnesota and now it’s just too cold, especially with our kids involved. Both church and socializing have moved back online. Most weeks we encounter only ourselves, our nanny, and sometimes staff at stores.
But like many things, this does not become easy just because we judge it worthwhile. Doing Easter service online was the right call, but it wasn’t not that hard. Staying in our house all the time with two teething, bored toddlers isn’t not that hard. Being unable to take them for a leisurely, purposeless, and, crucially, heated stroll through the mall isn’t not that hard. Our twins having literally no other playmates their own age isn’t not that hard. Wholly inadequate Zoom time with our friends isn’t not that hard. None of this is not that hard.
And we’re comp
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