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I might be worried to be worried about this...but I think there are scales of severity to all of these things and I think we're getting really good at not looking at things on scales and instead seeing them entirely as binaries, and it's making us hate each other...a lot.

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Good Morning John. I once witnessed two women talking to each to each other about how they can't help but judge other moms who take their kids to McDonalds. 

And this, you know, made me kind of mad. It is not the greatest injustice in the world but come on. Even leaving beside the fact that not every mom has the same amount of money and free time that you have, people understand the world differently. 

Some people see fast food as a less healthy but simple and tasty option, some people as cruel garbage that they would never subject their children to. And like the reality is... fast food isn't good. Their are better option for the environment and out bodies. But like, we are all humans experiencing the world differently, so make your fast food decisions and leave the judgement out of it. 

We are heading into a part of this pandemic where things are going to be less clear. Sometime in the next month 25% of the people in the US will be fully vaccinated and a lot of them will be the most at risk people. Sometime in the next few months mask mandates are gonna be lifted even in places where the governors aren't doing weird political signaling to their base. 

And I'm worried about this stage of the pandemic being, like, pretty stressful?

What behavior becomes ok when you are vaccinated? What behavior is ok when most people are vaccinated? Who is going to decide those things, and how are we going to judge each other for our behavior? 

And when we do judge each other, what does that do for our conception of our society? And each other?

Here is a true thing, the goal of vaccines and behavioral changes are the same, and they are two-fold.

One, we do these things so that the individual doing the thing does not get sick, or gets less sick. But even more importantly, number two, the virus spreads more slowly because there are fewer people shedding it.

That second thing is the real goal of public health advice; slowing the spread of the disease kicks ass. Especially when every sick person infects fewer than one other person, because that is when it stops active exponential spread and instead, you just have little outbreaks. 

And look, covid is not going away. Like, maybe ever? But it will be much less of a problem in places where lots of people get vaccines. 

And so I think, I hope that we will transition into it being less big of a deal, and we're gonna have to decide for ourselves what behaviors are ok. But to what extent are we gonna decide also for other people what behaviors are ok?

And a society does have an acceptable disease burden. In the US every year something like 30,000 people die of flu. Some of those people are infants and children. 

And we vaccinate and tell people to wash their hands and stay home when they are sick but... we did all the stuff that we did before with that situation. 

Now was that the right thing to do? I don't know, but we acted as if it was. Every individual person's decisions matter, and different people will make different decisions. And people who are more careful are going to average with the people who are less careful. And those behavioral changes will average with the efficacy of the vaccine and the result will be the total disease burden. 

So yes, people who are more careful, who are able to be more careful will be helping the people who are less careful. Whether that is because they can't be, or they don't want to be, or because they have bought into a different version of reality than I have. 

Different people are gonna understand rsk differently, they are gonna understand citizenship differently, they are gonna understand societal impact differently. And the importance of behavior change is gonna slide out as the importance of the vaccines slide in. As long as nothing goes terribly wrong. 

My advice, what I'm gonna do; keep taking precaution. I'm gonna keep wearing a mask at the grocery store when I am fully vaccinated because there is still a small chance I could spread the disease. 

But here is the point. I am also really worried that we have all spent a year cooped up looking at social media where the average stranger you hear about sucks pretty hard because like strangers who don't suck don't get turned into memes. 

Plus we are exiting four years of having a president whose favorite pastime was fanning the flames of anger and frustration with each other. 

And now we have this symbol of how we understand the world literally strapped to our face? Or not?

And I'm worried about in myself and in other people the judgement and frustration that is going to come with seeing people acting differently than I would act.

Especially with our new seemingly higher-than-ever skepticism about whether or not our neighbors are good people. I feel like that takes a like an existing wound of judgement and frustration and skepticism about the the goodness of humans in our society and makes that wound deeper, and harder to heal.

I don't really want to play that game. But also, I'm not sure I can stop myself. 

So. That is just a thing I am worried about. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.