On March 18, CBS shared a video of a young man named Brady Sluder talking about how COVID-19 is affecting him. Or rather, how it isn’t.
A less than two-minute-long clip surpassed 40 million views on Twitter alone, all because of a statement Sluder, an “aspiring Soundcloud rapper” made in regards to Spring Break. “If I get corona, I get corona,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying.” This mindset has arguably contributed to the mass outbreak we’ve experienced in the past two weeks: people refuse to practice social distancing and are going on as if everything is as it once was.
Sluder echoed the sentiments of a large number of college students, who traveled to Miami last week. Their reasoning? Because they’ve “looked forward to this.”
In the U.S., at the time this story was published, 504 people have died from COVID-19 thus far. It’s crucial to understand that those aren’t just arbitrary numbers, they are real people whose lives mattered. Traveling right now for non-essential reasons does nothing more than put other people at risk, especially those who have underlying conditions, or a compromised immune system. But, young, healthy people are at risk, too.
This kind of recklessness isn’t restricted to Gen Z though. Many millennials are operating as if there isn’t a pandemic in place that’s actively changing the course of history. We need to be practicing social distancing, not hopping on cheap flights and thinking of this as a break from reality.
On March 20, Dr. Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization advisor, warned that millennials aren’t taking COVID-19 as seriously as they should be. “One of the things that terrifies me now is, as this is spread in the west is, there’s this sense of invulnerability among millennials,” Aylward told Time. We have to stop thinking of COVID-19 as an illness that only affects one group of people, (which is ageist and ableist, anyways) and take care of each other.
Entitlement is the enemy right now. Please practice social distancing.