There’s a lot of shaming and blaming going around the internet right now, and a lot of it’s got (reasonably) good intentions behind it. The problem is, it’s easy to feel self-righteous when you come from privilege. It’s also easy to feel self-righteous when you make snap judgments without context, when you’ve got a convenient target for venting your fear and your own sense of helplessness. Here’s an example:
That mom you saw having a playdate in this time of social isolation (where, exactly, since the playgrounds are all closed?):
- Maybe she’s got an abusive husband or boyfriend, and meeting another mom (or her sister) is the only thing that gets her and the kids out of the house and gets her through this whole mess with enough together to actually leave when the kids hit school age.
- Maybe she’s a single mom, and she needs twenty minutes with another human being over the age of 4 to avoid harming her own children when her temper snaps because THERE ARE NO SUPPORT SYSTEMS RIGHT NOW.
- Maybe she and her kids already live in a blended/non-traditional household, and her roommate and her roommate’s toddler *also* needed 15 minutes of fresh air.
- Maybe she needed to see someone in person to drum up the courage to ask for a short-term loan, because she can’t make the rent this month.
- Maybe the “other mom” is actually the grandmother, and they’re all a single family unit.
That 30-something you saw driving through a Starbucks, who should absolutely not be out on such a frivolous errand?
- Maybe she’s on her way to a cancer screening. Maybe she just found out she’s safe, and needed ten minutes to process it before going back to dealing with her kids full-time-for-the-next-90-days.
- Maybe he’s on his way home from a 27-hour shift, because three of his employees called in COVID-cautious, but an essential business still needs to be there and stocked.
- Maybe she just lost her job, and has enough reward points for one last treat before the hammer falls. Maybe she’s seen the writing on the wall, and knows that if she waits until next week she’ll have missed her shot. Maybe she tips with cash she can’t spare anyway, because the barrista smiles and doesn’t rush her away from the window despite the press of social distancing.
Shaming someone over a moment frozen in time is easy. Remembering that we’re all human is what’s going to let us come out the other end of this. You want other people to engage in compassion and limit their lives (and incomes), unravel their mental (and physical) health, and potentially damage their children?
Make sure that you’re doing the same.