Covid Fatigue

Here we are, almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and nearly a half-year of lockdowns, quarantines and our new social rules. I now have friends getting sick and testing positive, as the virus continues to spread.  Here in the Netherlands, our daily infection rate went high, then low, and now high again, but this time higher than ever before. Therefore, we have new measures enforced by the government intended to slow the spread of the virus, like the closure of all restaurants, bars and clubs.  For those of us that are fortunate enough to be working, we are mostly working from home and there just isn’t much else to do when not working, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I could probably speak for most of us when I say I’m tired of it. It’s starting to get to me now. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve got Covid fatigue…and that I am not the only one.

While many are being diligent and wearing masks even when it’s not being enforced, self-quarantining and keeping a distance from others when going out, many others are doing things differently. I’m not about to try to take a moral stance on this, though it would be very easy to do so. Instead, I only wanted to write about what I see happening and let everyone make their own judgments.

The reason I’m writing this now, is because I was recently introduced to a new hook-up app. I won’t name it, but the idea behind this app is to allow you to host private gatherings, which are essentially sex parties, of course. You can probably understand why this app has recently become very popular. Once you’ve made a profile you can see other members and private functions being planned and attended around you. You simply post an event you would like to host, with the details of date and time, and allow users to click on your event and add themselves to the list of guests displayed below. This event listing displays all the nearby users who intend to attend the event, making it more or less desirable for others to attend. You can also just attend events hosted by other users, or just be a voyeur.

Once I made my profile I checked out the events being hosted nearby and saw that there was no shortage of places to have sex with multiple people right now. On the weekend you can find private events with 30, 50, and even 150 users listed as attending. You can see many of these events running all weekend long, showing how many and which members are joining. Each weekend in Amsterdam, and I am sure this app exists outside of the Netherlands, guys are getting together by the dozens for private sex parties and maybe even more than ever before. Now that all the bars, clubs, saunas and cruising areas are unavailable (it’s even too cold to go cruising by the nude beach now) where else will the gays go? Because you know you can’t stop us from having sex. You may take our freedoms and rights, but you will never take our sex – we will always find a way for sex. But I digress.

When men are meeting to have sex by the dozens in private, wouldn’t it almost be safer than to have these ‘functions’ held in bars or spaces which can take safety measures, like contact tracing or allowing limited capacities? Not that the government would ever enforce a lockdown of all businesses except for the gay saunas, bars and (cruising) clubs, but I do think this is definitely food for thought. We also see events like the recent Atlanta Pride party, with thousands of men in a club dancing like it’s 2019, and again another post last week shows a similar event going down in Zurich. Even though there aren’t many of them, large parties like these are still happening and it seems as though many people are not considering the Covid-related risks.

Like most societal topics these days, the coronavirus has become completely polarizing.

We also see anti-Covid marches and protests popping up all around the world, like the thousands of people who recently marched in Berlin, London and Montreal, as well as many other cities. The anti-mask movement is picking up, and though I hate this contentious term, it’s accurate: many Covid conspiracy theories are going around as well. Like most societal topics these days, the coronavirus has become completely polarizing. People are left to decide which team they play for. Are you left or right politics?
Are you BLM or ALM? Do you think J. K. Rowling is a transphobic monster or not? And so on. Coronavirus is yet another topic riddled with suspicion as it’s essentially something that most of us don’t know the whole truth about. And like most things that we only have limited information about, we draw our conclusions based on the information we gather from our individually selected resources. This, unfortunately, perpetuates this binary way of thinking, simply because everyone gets their information from sources that share similar values to them and in turn, no one learns (or seems to want to learn!) about the other side of the story. And as such, the coronavirus pandemic response is being made into a question of political power instead of a scientific dilemma.

It therefore isn’t that surprising that people are so skeptical of the Covid safety rules. First off: all these changes do infringe on most people’s livelihood and freedoms. It can be very upsetting and overwhelming when being forced out of work. This could make it more comforting to take the side that challenges the rule enforcers, of course. Secondly: it’s not necessarily wrong that many people are skeptical of their government these days, as in the last few years we have seen so much of what we didn’t know before, suddenly being exposed through social media. It is also not surprising that many people don’t automatically believe anymore that their government is doing what is best for them, as we learn about most of our tax money flowing into the pockets of the elite. People are becoming cynical about democracy as a system, treating it just like most other systems we currently wish to dismantle, with the risk of trust being lost completely. There is the matter of fake news, making many people uncertain and wary of their news and information sources. What was once trustworthy and reliable is now in question. And, most importantly, when there is a lack of decent leadership as we see in countries like the U.S., it isn’t really any wonder people just do whatever they want.

Having said that: even when there is such leadership, like here in the Netherlands, but with a more relaxed approach, people tend to do the bare minimum to actively try to control the spread of this virus. In Amsterdam, people walking outside with masks on are a rarity, and you won’t find that many in the shops or other enclosed spaces either. People keeping distance is only noticeable sometimes, and only when lines are clearly marked on the ground, otherwise, it’s completely forgotten…as forgotten as it is at a 50-person sex fest.

So what can we do about it? We can’t control people. I understand how it feels to have strong desires, and I don’t think it’s simply a matter of ‘just controlling’ those desires. I don’t think we can just tell people to find one partner and call it a day, like telling anyone what to do is the solution to anything. You may already know how tough it is for most people to find a partner, let alone one exclusive partner without the various, complicated, new pressures brought about by the coronavirus. I also know that many guys also have drug habits that are not so easily managed, making it harder to avoid parties and group sex events like the ones on my new app. Most are tired of being alone or being anti-social and tired of whatever else is going on in their heads. People’s mental health is being put to the test as this pandemic continues to disconnect us from each other, all the while instilling the fear of the unknown future in us. Who knows what issues someone may have. And believe me, gay and MSM are not short of issues. We have enough going on that we don’t need to be shamed by our peers. So I don’t want to judge or try to shame anyone for being ‘irresponsible’, ‘careless’ or ‘selfish’, all epithets we hear all too frequently these days. In the end, my opinion won’t change any of what they will or won’t do, so it’s pointless to bother and possibly make things worse for anyone. It’s not worth it. I can only control my own actions and thoughts and that’s already exhausting enough because I’ve got Covid fatigue.

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