There have been 449,020 COVID-19 related deaths in the United States. 

This is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed on its website as of Feb. 4.

There have been 449,020 lives lost to COVID-19.

Since March, we’ve seen the United States transform into the leading hotspot for this pandemic. States like California and New York have witnessed crippling numbers of individuals catch and fall to the virus. Lockdowns occurred; life grew stale.

Many of these inconveniences in place lead to a sense of desperation for normality, especially in younger and/or more conservative demographics. Even with what we have, COVID-19 still spreads, and it only worsens when reckless behavior ensues.

There have been 449,020 dead and counting.

In 1967, child psychologist and former University of Tufts professor David Elkind published his work “Egocentrism in Adolescence” in a scholarly article.  Elkind describes how teenagers develop a narrative in which they’re unique and the center of the world. This is called “The Personal Fable.” It is within this narrative that they develop a kind of superman complex.

A myth of invincibility.

In relation to the pandemic, one with The Personal Fable might say, “Oh well, I’m young and healthy, so it doesn’t really matter if I get it. I’ll be just fine! Lol. Let’s partyyyy!”

Now, I suspect that this kind of egocentric thought isn’t exclusive to teenagers. In fact, I think many young adults fall prey to it as well. Take Los Angeles TikTokers for instance. Famous co-ops like The Hype House have been seen at numerous parties during the pandemic. Influencers also show similar disregard for public safety. YouTuber Tana Mongeau infamously posted a video of her and Erika Costell, a fellow YouTuber, at a party last year saying, “Listen, we don’t care! Sorry!”

This was in regard to COVID-19 restrictions.

These superspreader events put groups of people — and their loved ones, live-ins, co-workers — at risk of catching and/or transmitting the virus. Of course, they’re not thinking about that. They’re probably desperate for some kind of normality. A pre-pandemic party to cure that harrowing sense of isolation.

And I completely empathize with that.

I too wish to be able to gather with my friends and dance the night away. I too miss festivals, in-house dining and parties.

However, the public safety, the health of others — friends, teachers, family — all of that comes first. Always.

Which is why when I see swaths of Zags partying like there’s no tomorrow — maskless, in close proximity, in groups larger than five — I see red.

Yes, Gonzaga students fall prey to “The Personal Fable,” too.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people blatantly disregard safety guidelines. Every weekend, someone will post a pic of them and their buddies at some gathering to their snap stories, as if they want to be caught.

It’s not a cute look.

Part of our culture on campus is, “Zags help Zags.” And shouldn’t this hold true during these times — especially these times? However, with the dorm-hopping, the parties, the risky behavior, it really just feels like “Zags hurt Zags.”

I get that nobody likes a fun ruiner; hell, I hate them too! But there is absolutely nothing fun about sending someone into quarantine, nothing amusing about the guilt you’d feel if someone got sick because of you, nothing joyous about ending up in the ICU.

Just because we are young does not mean we are invincible.

Think about how cringy those TikTokers look when they’re caught, how the internet ridicules them. Think about how selfish and stupid they look when they party in spite of the thousands of people locked in their homes.

Wouldn’t want to look like that, huh?

In fact, many Zags could have, what with the former ZagsUnmasked account using public humiliation to keep people in line. The vigilantism was to be frowned upon, but given current circumstances, I wonder if they had a point.

There have been 449,020 lives lost. 

The end of this pandemic is in sight. With anywhere from four months to a year left, we have to soldier on. In a time as critical as this, we must not lose sight of the end goal. I get that normalcy matters, but we can get there faster if we contain the virus as best we can.

So the next time one of us finds ourselves in a potentially risky situation, like a large gathering or dorm-hopping, pause for a second. Think. Is this really worth it? Is putting the well being of yourself or others at risk worth it? Is the embarrassment of getting in trouble worth it? Is the isolation of quarantine worth it?

Is the guilt worth it?

If you find yourself saying no, remember that there are hundreds of other people like you delaying their gratification and finding new ways to enjoy them now. You are not alone.

We are almost there.

Alexander Prevost is a staff writer. Follow him on Twitter at @Alexanderprvst. 

Alexander Prevost is a staff writer for the Gonzaga Bulletin. He is passionate about writing, politics, and music.

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