Thursday 2 July 2020

Sheeple vs Freeple: Isolating the Difference

Disclaimer: this is potentially a friendship-ending post. Read it if you want. Also, pardon my French.

Three kids, wearing masks over their eyes, grin like fools.
Oh, we've definitely been cooped up together for too long. (Image: author's own)

It used to be that people in masks were the bad guys. Now, masks seem to be a simple way to visually demonstrate whether you belong to the sheeple or the freeple, the educated or the ignorant. How you describe it and where you see yourself depends on so many things; religion, politics, education, and -- yes -- which network you get your news from. Or, in the simplest terms, whether you blindly follow rules or not.

For me, for my family, we are mask-wearers (unless I forget to bring one with me), but not for walks and runs and bike rides. If we go into a store, we put them on, and suffer the heat and discomfort and mumbling. I freely admit that I judge others for wearing (or not) a mask.

It's like when we moved here and saw the rules posted everywhere. Keep off the grass. No ball games. No cycling here

"We're Canadian," I told the kids over and over. "It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing. We follow the rules." 

But the longer I live here, the more I am frustrated, not by the excess of rules, not by the people that don't follow them (per se), but by the lack of enforcement. Why make rules that so many people don't follow? What's the point of having them if nobody really cares, either way? Why should I feel guilty for doing what everyone else is doing?

If all your friends jumped off a bridge, my mother's voice still rings in my ears.

I don't want to let my kids play ball games in the park, the games that the other kids play, often with their parents, directly under the No ball games signs, because it's against the rules. My kids are the only ones that dismount at the park entrance and walk their bikes to the playground. I'm sure our friends can't help but feel that we're judging them, and I know that the kids wonder why all their friends get to play with balls and ride their bikes, and they don't -- I also know that I'm secretly planting seeds of judgement in their little minds. 

We were invited to a "socially distanced" picnic on the weekend at the park. First, the act of sending the invitation alone was literally a criminal offence. Second, it was not distanced. The eight or so kids played tag, and the eight or so parents stood in a clump. Police officers on horses walked by and didn't break us up, just like they didn't break up any of the other too-large, too-close gatherings at the park. 

"We haven't seen you in so long!" the other parents said. 

Of course they haven't. My kids have been stuck inside every day, all day, with just each other and me for companionship/interaction/bitter fighting/screaming/sobbing. Our school has stayed closed. My kids hadn't been on a playdate since early March, and then we went on two, outside, with our "bubble" family, who had been locked in like us the entire time. 

The other parents were happy to see us, were incredulous that we have really been isolating that much, because "the kids really needed to see their friends." 

"It's been hell," I said, truthfully. 

I didn't say, "How could you not? No matter how your kids feel, what you believe, what your networks say, or what is happening in other countries, the rule here -- the law (until Saturday, that is) -- is that you can't get together with a group of other people the way that apparently every one we know, people we like and respect, has for the last three months."

I didn't say, "The fact that we followed the rules, alone out of almost everyone we know, doesn't make us stupid, paranoid or gullible."

It makes everyone else assholes. 


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