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The Unraveling of Friendships During COVID-19

Pandemic shaming is very real. What’s worse is the destruction of communities.

Retha Ferguson/Pexels
Source: Retha Ferguson/Pexels

The coronavirus is not only affecting us physically, as many people are getting sick, or worse, dying; it is literally pitting neighbors against neighbor, too.

From grown-ups shaming each other on social media to a neighbor receiving an anonymous hateful letter in the mail, COVID-19 has revealed a very ugly side of adult behavior.

We frequently talk about children who are bullies or victims of cyberbullying, but during this tense time of uncertainty—some neighbors are treating people with cruelty rather than compassion.

Understandably, people are annoyed as well as apprehensive, especially when they see others not taking responsibility by wearing a mask when they are in public or respecting social distancing.

The emotional toll cabin fever has taken on some has been overwhelming. We have to be more emphatic to those who may be struggling with a loved one with COVID. Or people dealing with hardships such as unemployment, furloughs, not being able to feed their families, or the real fear of losing their homes.

The news media has been highlighting some of the worse behavior people have displayed, from a Florida woman and her father being hit with a baseball bat after telling college-aged students to social distance, to the extreme where a security guard at Dollar Store was shot to death for kindly telling a customer a mask was required before entering.

Communities should be unity especially at this time, but sadly we are seeing neighbors policing and attacking each other. In North Florida, we had our beaches closed for just over a month. A small sacrifice considering what the world is going through.

We had partial re-opening by mid-April, which meant people could only use our beaches from 6 a.m. through noon for walking or exercising, and even fishermen were able to enjoy several hours of their favorite pastime.

There will always be rule-breakers, people who believe these mandates (state orders) don’t pertain to them or that they aren’t hurting anyone. But the fact is that this is a pandemic; when you go down to the beach in groups breaking state orders, you are putting your community at risk.

As the country is now going through phases of re-opening, everyone seems to have a difference of opinion when it comes to practicing social responsibility and this is now causing friction between friends, neighbors, and even family.

The CDC is still strongly recommending we maintain social distancing between each other (at least 6 feet) as well as wearing a mask while in public. This is not only to protect yourself but to keep others safe too.

It’s a mixed reaction, with the re-opening of states, of how people are behaving. Some are completely letting their guard down—some seemingly without any respect to others—while there are those who are being responsible to prevent the spread of the virus to their community.

There’s no doubt, many are struggling with stress, frustration, and maybe even depression from their quarantined life; however, it doesn’t give us the right to become judge and jury to those around us.

For those who are not being considerate of their community by ignoring safety precautions, I urge you to please reconsider your behavior. Think about people on the front lines: the grocery store workers and especially the medical staff.

We don’t need adults bullying adults. We don’t want neighbors attacking neighbors. When this pandemic cools down, there will be fractured friendships. We will look at some of our neighbors differently. Especially those we saw at our local stores, without masks, going down the aisles the wrong way with complete disregard for the health crisis we’re in today.

We are heading for a new normal, or abnormal, as a friend recently shared with me. Are you prepared not only to recover from quarantine but also to rebuild unraveled relationships?

While we are physically divided, it’s important to remember we are always stronger together than alone.

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