2020: Reflections on the year of the plague

How things have changed in a mere 3 months. At the beginning of 2020, I was still watching videos, reviewing last year’s events, thinking about tabletop RPGs, and planning for the coming year’s events. That’s all gone now.

How fragile “normal life” is. How much we took for granted, all these years: budget airline flights and weekend trips overseas, massive conventions, long dinner conversations at a restaurant with friends. These are now things of the past, and who knows when they will return?

The year of the plague is well and truly upon us, an echo of 1918’s Spanish flu. Only drastic action can prevent millions of excess deaths, both due to the virus and to other causes. If the healthcare system is overwhelmed by pneumonia patients, there will not be enough hospital facilities or staff to deal with the daily burden of accidents, heart attacks, strokes and other emergencies.

In the midst of this global crisis, it might do well to reflect on a few silver linings:

  • Many of us are confined to home now, or going out less. Take this opportunity to catch up on all the things you wanted to do but kept procrastinating on because you went out every weekend. Read those books, watch those movies, play those video games, practice your hobbies, finish up your DIY and craft ideas.
  • Spend time with your family. We’re all busy with work and school, but now is the time to build relationships with the people who matter most.
  • During the lockdowns in China and Italy, air pollution significantly decreased due to factory closures and reduced road traffic.
  • Global carbon emissions have decreased due to fewer flights, reduced travel and economic activity overall.
  • Some places which previously suffered from overcrowding and overtourism are given some breathing space to recover from the human stampede. This is especially true for the natural environment, where animals may react negatively to human presence. I have personally encountered some very crowded dive sites, where animals like mantas and whale sharks seemed eager to leave quickly after showing up for a few minutes. It would be a good thing for the natural world, both underwater and on land, to have some time free of disturbance.

So for those of you reading this, don’t get negative, don’t whine about cancelled events or holidays. All these are first-world problems. If you’re still healthy, you still have a job and home, and your family and friends are all right, you have nothing to complain about. Many people are suffering far worse.

The vocal minority of “covidiots”

I saw some really facepalm-inducing comments on the Doujin Market Facebook page last month. It’s really unbelievable that some people could be this ignorant and selfish, giving credence to the “self-centred bratty otaku” stereotype.

The username has been partly covered to prevent any harassment. Please don’t bully him for these remarks, there’s enough stupidity already, don’t act like an idiot too. He will either learn responsible behaviour soon, or be fined for breaching social-distancing regulations.

Background: Chris__ posted many comments on the Doujin Market Facebook page pleading with the organisers to continue with the event. This was in mid-March, after mass events had been ordered to stop and a 14-day stay-home requirement placed on foreigners entering Singapore.

This user blatantly dismissed the valid concerns of artists and attendees regarding the crowds and large numbers of untraceable walk-in visitors. He also ignored the concerns of foreign artists who would be subjected to a 14-day “house arrest” when they entered Singapore. This attitude can only be described as selfish!

Furthermore, he claimed that only “hundreds” of people will attend:

Only a few hundred visitors a day for an event with over 100 artists? Every artist gets at most 5 customers a day then? What about their booth rental cost?

Furthermore, Chris__ had the nerve to accuse other users of exaggerating the number of visitors.

We will now look at the official visitor figures for the past years’ Doujin Markets, posted on the official website.

Indeed there are not “thousands” of visitors, the number is almost TEN THOUSAND per day! Unless Chris__ wants to accuse the organisers of lying, he should not make such easily-disproved claims.

Unlike a certain country’s leader, I believe that facts are not optional in a debate.

Finally, one of the voices of reason in the Facebook comments showing the appropriate social responsibility:

You might be young, healthy and at low risk of complications, but spare a thought for others who may be living with elderly and vulnerable family members. Don’t prioritise your own enjoyment over the real health risks to others. If I caused someone’s beloved grandparent to pass away because I insisted on going to a crowded event to enjoy myself, it would burden me forever.

There will be opportunities for events in future. Unlike Cinderella’s gown, cosplay costumes will not evaporate overnight. Boardgames do not have expiry dates, you can always play later. If you really want a piece of merchandise, you can contact the seller privately and have it reserved or mailed to you.

This is a global crisis. We’re all in this together. Don’t be selfish.

Stay home, stay safe, everyone.

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