WFLA News, a TV station in Tampa, Florida has put out a viral video on Twitter that shows Clearwater Beach packed with Spring breakers and other young revelers, defying suggestions from government officials to practice “social distancing” and stay home. A lot of Millennials, out of a sense of entitlement or perhaps an excess view of their immortality, are pretending that the coronavirus does not exist or at least will not affect them.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that the phenomenon is widespread.
“Scientists and government officials fighting the coronavirus epidemic say they have a problem: Carefree youths. As authorities moved to restrict social gatherings last week, bars and restaurants from New York to Berlin filled up with revelers, illegal lockdown parties popped up in France and Belgium, and campuses in the U.S. lit up for end-of-the-world dorm parties.”
Part of the problem is that young people tend not to have no symptoms or mild symptoms when they get coronavirus. The more serious cases tend to happen for people 50 and over with mortality increasing the older patients get. A person between birth and 29 has about a zero percent chance of dying of the coronavirus. That increases to just shy of 20 percent once one reaches 90 years old.
While government officials from President Trump down to mayors have been urging that people stay home and only travel for essential purposes such as buying food or seeing the doctor, those admonishments are meeting with defiance from millennials. The sense of entitlement that suggests that one should not be stopped from going out and partying may undermine efforts to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus by urging social distancing.
The phenomenon has caused a rare example of bipartisan agreement. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York tweeted, “To everyone in NYC but ESPECIALLY healthy people & people under 40, (bc from what I’m observing that’s who needs to hear this again), PLEASE stop crowding bars, restaurants, and public spaces right now. Eat your meals at home.”
The tweet got a rare agreement from none other than Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He tweeted, “Good advice — not just for NYC, but everywhere. If you can stay home, stay home. And wash your hands.”
Cruz has been leading by example by voluntarily self-quarantining after having been exposed to someone who was infected with the coronavirus. He has been offering safe advice on how to handle the pandemic while at the same time working on his senatorial duties from home, offering legislation to expedite vaccines and treatments for the disease.
One problem with millennials has been the sense that the coronavirus is someone else’s problem, that suggestions that they sacrifice for the greater good are an imposition. The attitude could be seen as ironic, since millennials are more likely to support socialism, a highly regimented, authoritarian political and economic system, than other generations.
Also, some millennials seem to be uncaring about how their risky behavior may endanger older people. A snarky name for coronavirus, #BoomerRemover, briefly when viral on social media.
Several local and state governments have moved to take the decision to act irresponsibly away from millennials by closing down restaurants, bars, and other entertainment venues. Governments in European countries are taking harsher measures, threatening people with fines and even jail time if they decide to break self-quarantine rules.
Even so, the Wall Street Journal article cites at least one instance of young people sneaking out of their homes and attending clandestine dinner parties. One instance that took place in Italy attracted the notice of the police, who took down the partier’s information and then ordered them to go home, reminding them of the penalties the Italian government has imposed for people who break lockdown.
Still, some millennials are complaining that orders or even a strong suggestion to socially isolate falls unfairly on their generation. They are being robbed, so they say, or the ability to enjoy life. The idea of sacrifice, even for the greater good, seems to have been lost on them.
Another meme has appeared on social media. It reads, “Your grandparents called on to go to war. You are being called on to stay home and sit on your couch. You can do this.”