COVID-19: Resenting the Zorgeloos

Posted here (week 2411).

The Netherlands was slower than I would have liked to shut things down, and did not close very aggressively compared to other nations. It’s been working, though: Dutch citizens are more socially responsible than most westerners so the , and thanks to some rapid building, ICU capacity was never exceeded.

The curve was flattened. Trust in the government is high. They present the science behind the strategy, opposition parties are showing solidarity. There is plenty of room for questions, though, as they sometimes cite “the science” without explaining why their science differs from that of neighbors. Why are they so certain that schools aren’t a serious source of spreading? Why so much certainty that masks are counterproductive, when it looks like virologists are making decisions about sociology?

There were a few weeks where the politicians were being too obtuse about criteria for relaxing containment measures. They have now presented a plan, though, and it seems to fall in the middle of discontent from citizens that wish it was more aggressive or more careful.

I am confident we will recover as a nation, samen de schouders eronder. But I also am frustrated at the libertine nature of Dutch society. Of course all cultures have their irresponsible set; in this city I observe mostly students and expats that don’t see why they should avoid drinking together just to save the lives of older people. So the conscientious among us sit inside watching the careless prolong our isolation by enjoying city life as if only their pleasure matters.

In my case, this watching is literal. Living in a hipster party neighborhood I listen and watch revelry outside that my own sense of social obligation won’t permit me to enjoy. In London, Matt Webb described this well:

I noticed in myself a feeling of anger at their selfishness, or as if they were deliberately attacking me, or perhaps I felt that they were freeloading on the carefulness of others.

I feel like I am paying a regressive social tax.

This is one of a series of posts about my experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.