Covid rage: Future historians will look back on 2020 as the year when public anger began to boil over – Jim Duffy

Road rage, social media rage and now Covid rage. Jim Duffy is losing his cool and suspects it may become a much greater problem in society

Don't be a Covidiot, wear a face mask in places where you cannot maintain social distancing like shops and public transport (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)
Don't be a Covidiot, wear a face mask in places where you cannot maintain social distancing like shops and public transport (Picture: Lisa Ferguson)

In the very different world that we live in, which is changing really fast, I have a question for you. What are your tolerance levels like just now?

Let’s contextualise the discussion and hone it into sharp perspective. We are living in a pandemic where we had a go at trying to manage it, manage each other and kill it off. It has failed dismally.

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We have companies laying off workers all over the place, with big operations like Gatwick Airport scaling down to what’s starting to remind me of the old Inchinnan Airport in Glasgow. Incredible to see.

We have a Conservative Government in Westminster that looks like a bad episode of Fawlty Towers, with the Prime Minister in a side role as the hapless Major Gowen.

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We have an SNP Government in Scotland that is stale, without spark and unfortunately unchallenged by any credible opposition.

We have riots on the streets of America amid the Black Lives Matter movement, Jeff Bezos now worth $2 billion and telling us he’s worth every penny. And the whole world is now on the edge of financial meltdown.

That just about sums it up.

Playing party politics while Rome burns

So where is your tolerance level sitting right now? One dictionary definition of tolerance is “the capacity to endure continued subjection to... conditions without an adverse reaction”. Ostensibly, what threshold do you have these days for “stuff” until you react, hit out, snap, mouth off, complain, tweet or simply walk away.

I’ll be brutally honest, I’m getting to the stage where I want to hit out. And while the 50-something educated person in me says that’s completely the wrong response to observed stimulus, I don’t think the rational part of my brain can take it any more. And I’m not alone. Raised anxiety levels are causing many of us stress that in turn is reducing our tolerance levels. But, I’m not here today to advise, counsel or remedy that. No, I’d rather let everyone know how it feels for me and ask if you feel the same way. Perhaps a temperature check for the politicians as they continue to play party politics while Rome burns.

First up, my tolerance levels for those who are “Covidiots” is dangerously low. Having spent months in lockdown – like you – and having to be disciplined in going to the shops, not seeing family and so many other things, I’m sick to my back teeth of the undisciplined and the cavalier.

I hate masks, but I wear one

Those idiots in pubs, on beaches and elsewhere who think they are immune and don’t care about anyone else. Last week a neighbour near me had more than 100 random people at their house for a party. And what happens one week later? Two of them test positive for Covid-19. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots. I guess I’ve made my point and you can see where my tolerance levels are on this one.

And what about masks? Well, I hate wearing my mask. It makes my glasses steam up and, after a while, it definitely affects my capacity for work. But, I am wearing it as I believe that it can offer some protection to me and others.

I wear it more out of respect for others rather than as a scientific barrier to catching Covid-19. The government tells me to wear it. So, when I see idiots not social distancing nor wearing their masks – or indeed wearing them around their chin – I get angry.

My tolerance levels are bust here. I wonder how you feel about it too? This week at a Tube station in London, a passenger called out another on not wearing a mask. The video is all over the internet.

The thug not wearing a mask then walks up to and punches the other man, knocking him to the ground. It was vicious. If only I’d been there, eh? My tolerance levels are so low just now, I’m sure the Chief Constable of either the Met or Police Scotland would not condone my response, but I do hope action is taken and the thug is prosecuted.

My tolerance is shot

What about shopping? My tolerance levels here are at rock bottom. I enter a shop with my mask on. I use the hand sanitiser and I am in the frame of mind to be respectful to others as they open fridge display doors, search for fruit and veg or queue at the meat counter.

But, when I am looking at fresh pizza and someone barges right in front of me, brushing up against me so they can get what they want, my tolerance levels are shot. I could honestly pick them up and stuff them in one of the freezers. Have they no respect for others as we try to social distance and be reasonable?

And that is the keyword here for me. Why am I being so reasonable when so many others simply don’t care? Why should I and you tolerate poor, selfish and aggressive behaviour because we are law-abiding?

In a decade from now, I guarantee that 2020 will be the year that social scientists and anthropologists class as when the “rage” started. I can see society breaking down in little episodes every day and I am in that arena where it is a fight just to get in and out of the supermarket with Covidiots in every aisle. Suffice to say my tolerance levels are low. I’m betting many of you feel the same way.

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