Parties and Instagram posts aren't worth the risk

After managing to flatten the curve for a few weeks, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are on the rise again. This time, young adults are the primary age group becoming infected. When browsing social media, it’s easy to see why. 


Snapchat stories show high school and college students going to parties, bars and restaurants with friends. Instagram posts also show young people spending time in large groups, traveling and not wearing masks. Meanwhile, Madison County is testing positive for COVID-19 at a rate of 4.32 percent, with 1,849 confirmed cases as of July 27.  In comparison, the state of Illinois is testing positive at a rate of 3.8 percent as of July 27.  


We at The Alestle are frustrated to see people, many of whom are close to our own age, ignoring social distancing guidelines and refusing to wear masks. It’s upsetting to think we may have to shut our community down again due to this carelessness. 


At the same time, we understand that people are tired of the pandemic. This isn’t the summer we imagined, and social media makes it even harder, because seeing other people having fun with their friends can make you feel more lonely. By the same token, loneliness is only a small price to pay to uphold the wellbeing of ourselves and others.  


If you’re considering going to a large social gathering or in public without a mask, ask yourself: Is it really worth it? You may assume you’ll be fine, and you may be right, but you could infect a high-risk individual. Is having fun for a few hours or refusing to slightly inconvenience yourself worth potentially putting someone in the hospital? 


This isn’t about the “right” to do whatever you please no matter the consequences, it’s about reducing the risk for our communities as a whole. One person’s desire to go out without a mask cannot infringe on someone else’s right to leave their house, which is necessary for many for work and groceries, without becoming infected. Furthermore, if you do feel so entitled as to refuse to wear a mask, businesses also have a right to refuse entry to you.


We all follow rules for the sake of public safety (no drinking and driving, no smoking in restaurants), and this is just another one. Everyone has a part to play in lessening the impact of COVID-19, and right now, it’s through social distancing and wearing masks. 


Don’t let the pressure of wanting to look good on social media influence your decision. Instagram will still be here when this is all over. What is really important right now is having some compassion and taking care of each other. 


This pandemic may feel boring, lonely and tiresome. But to risk lowering someone’s quality of life or even endangering their life, when reducing this risk is so easy, is simply selfish. 


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