Why I Cut Out Friends Who Don’t Take COVID Seriously

“I have some news,” my dad tells me on our morning call, “my mother died.” 

I immediately stop pouring my coffee and take him off speakerphone. 

“Wait, what?” 

My father goes on to tell me that she passed away earlier that morning in her London apartment and that he would send me the Zoom funeral information when he had it. I then ask my dad the question that I’m sure many of us have been asking a lot more these last few months, the question that can change a 10-minute chat into a 3-hour conversation, the most important question at this time: “Are you okay?” 

“Yeah,” he says, “I’m fine.” 

Back in November, my dad had to have his leg amputated. There are no words to describe the agonizing fear of waiting for the doctors to give you updates or trying to memorize every word and sound of your parent’s voice as they are being wheeled into surgery because, hey, it may be the last time you hear them say “I love you.” After three major operations, he has been recuperating and learning his new normal, including walking with a prosthetic. When COVID-19 hit the rehabilitation home where he is currently residing, they immediately followed protocol and shut down. I haven’t hugged my dad since my visit to the Bay Area over the holidays and now, when I visit from Los Angeles, I stand outside his window to see him. These last couple of visits, I’ve wondered, “when will I hug my dad again?” and when a parent loses a parent, it’s the harsh reminder that we don’t get to keep ours forever, either. 

This pandemic hasn’t gotten under control because many believe that doing things such as wearing a mask when around others, staying home, and practicing social distancing will lead to the virus controlling their freedom. Thanks to social media, I’ve learned that some of these people aren’t just people on the internet—some were part of my inner circle.

When a friend asked me what I was doing for the 4th of July, I told them there were many reasons why I didn’t feel like being patriotic, but more importantly, I want to see my loved ones without the fear of getting them sick. When I asked this friend what their plans were, they told me they were driving from our state, California, to another high-case state. After reassuring me that they weren’t one of those people who don’t believe in masks, they stated that they were skeptical about the vaccine based on their own knowledge and research of epidemiology. They then stated the infamous line, “We can’t live in fear forever.” For the record, this person is not a doctor. 

Now, I am all for questioning authority, but when things are uncertain and peoples’ lives are at risk, I am not one to put my opinion and assessment over facts and numbers. I did express to this friend that their decision saddened me, and although I do know they understood where I was coming from after almost losing a parent, I can’t be the only one whose friendships have changed or have ended during this unpredictable chapter. 

I compare the decisions we make during this time to drinking and driving. Sometimes people get away with it, so they don’t think anything of it. But not getting caught doesn’t make it right. Also, what happens when you hit another car and hurt someone, let alone kill them? What if your decision hurts or kills the passengers in your car? Then your judgment, your decision, has severely impacted someone else—how can someone be okay with this?   

I spent my July 4th by the pool alone, drinking piña coladas, FaceTiming friends and family, and of course, watching everyone’s Instagram stories. The IG stories I saw ranged from people secluded among small groups in other parts of the United States, to the politically slanted “If you don’t celebrate today, it defeats the purpose of this day” rants. I unfollowed and deleted and kept telling myself a quote a former colleague once told me: “Don’t you just love when the trash takes itself out?” 

It’s incredible how a pandemic that has asked us to simply wear a mask when around others and to stay home has revealed who people truly are. My grandmother hid from the Nazis during World War II in Holland when she was eight years old. Having a gas mask was a luxury—it meant you had a chance at survival. She didn’t have an iPhone to FaceTime her parents that she was separated from. I mean, hell, she didn’t even have food—she lived off tulip bulbs. But sure, tell me more about how wearing a mask is infringing upon your life.

I am by no means an angel. I’ve received a speeding ticket, sent 3am text messages that deserve to be a meme, and, not to sound like a 45-year-old divorcée, I can be fun. I don’t take myself seriously, I’m the friend who keeps Twister and mini-beer pong on hand “just in case” and has a small reputation of being a bit of a wild child. I have managed to safely hang out with a couple of friends outside at a distance, and I will be the first to acknowledge that minimal human interaction is vital to everyone’s mental health. However, when you don’t choose to care about others’ health, others’ lives and your behavior is delaying many of us from being able to simply hug our loved ones again, amongst the many other long term effects it could have on others, then yeah… 

You and I have nothing in common. 

Images: Ranta Images / Shutterstock.com

These Are The Top 20 Cheating US Cities During The Pandemic

Breaking news: People are still cheating, even in quarantine. Cheaters are gonna cheat. Duh. But the ability to start and have an affair while cooped up inside with your significant other 24/7 for months on end sounds like an art form not many can pull off. And honestly?? I don’t know if I’m more impressed or appalled. Ashley Madison, the leading married dating site that literally says “Life is short, get an affair” on their homepage, recently released its COVID-19 edition of Top 20 Cheating Cities Per Capita list, which compiles the US cities with the most accounts created since the beginning of March on a per person basis, and the results are… interesting. And weird. 

Let’s kick things off with perhaps the wildest data of the bunch. If you’re wondering how many people are actually cheating during quarantine right now, buckle up because the answer is A LOT. The company saw a giant spike in the number of sign-ups between March 1 and April 25. How giant? Like, we’re talking more than 17,000 sign ups PER DAY. 17,000+. How TF is that even possible??? SO many people every. single. day. are successfully finding a way to sign up for a cheating site even though they’re constantly within 500 square feet of their partner. Imagine giving zero f*cks and having that level of audacity? Lmao. Unreal. 

Anyway, without further ado, it’s time to make fun of analyze this data with the help of Ashley Madison’s very own chief strategy officer, Paul Keable. So who TF made this VIP list? 

  1. Miami, FL
  2. Orlando, FL
  3. Washington D.C.
  4. Cincinnati, OH
  5. Anchorage, AK
  6. Atlanta, GA
  7. St. Louis, MO
  8. Las Vegas, NV
  9. Tampa, FL
  10. Richmond, VA
  11. Minneapolis, MN
  12. Sacramento, CA
  13. St. Paul, MN
  14. Spokane, WA
  15. Buffalo, NY
  16. Pittsburgh, PA
  17. Denver, CO
  18. Baton Rouge, LA
  19. Colorado Springs, CO
  20. Cleveland, OH

Oooookay, this is a lot to take in. For starters, 15% of it is dominated by Florida, with Miami claiming the #1 spot, Orlando ranking #2, and Tampa #9. Classic Florida!

“With Florida, we found it interesting that they had such a dominant presence on the list considering they were antagonized by the media for not taking the lockdown seriously enough, and they’ve gone through with plans to reopen fairly early in comparison to some other areas,” says Keable. LOL. For real. Leave it to the Sunshine State, full of old people and bath salt-consuming cannibals, to ignore health and safety precautions and come in hot with three of the top 10 cheating cities on the list. Congrats! I should call my grandpa who lives down there to share the good news. 

Next up, we have Washington, DC clocking in at #3, followed by unexpected Cincinnati, Ohio, Anchorage, Alaska, Atlanta, Georgia, and St. Louis, Missouri. Ugh, with the exception of Atlanta, the Sugar Daddy capital of the US, I’m so confused. Scroll a little bit further down the list and we have Buffalo, NY ranked as city #15. This one is worth mentioning because it hits near and dear to my heart as that’s where my ex, who kissed a dude right in front of me once (yep, long story for another day), is from. I guess it’s true that that city really is home to a bunch of cheating idiots. But I digress. I’m frankly both shocked and impressed that New York, NY did not make this list, but I guess when you share a shoebox with someone, there really is no room to cheat.

TBH, I feel like there’s no rhyme or reason to the places on this list. At all. Like, they’re all located somewhere in Bumblef*ck scattered across the country. I don’t get why, so I asked Keable for an explanation. “We ranked the top US cities list based on signups to our site from March 1 to April 25 on a per capita basis, which explains why you’re seeing smaller cities like Buffalo and Anchorage over bigger metropolitans. Had we based the list strictly on signups, cities like New York and Los Angeles would’ve been at the top.” So don’t get too cocky, New Yorkers—you’re no models of fidelity either.

For our next trick, here’s a sweet hypothesis that I think is designed to help bring us all together? “There’s quite a variety of cities on the list from across the country, and that just goes to show how ubiquitous cheating really is,” says Keable. “Infidelity can’t be pinpointed to one type of person, place, culture, etc.” Yeah, I feel like this data didn’t teach me anything except all of this boils down to the fact that cheating doesn’t discriminate against anyone. To prove that fact, the report shows that each of the top cities on this list voted Democrat in the 2016 Election, although the majority of Ashley Madison’s user base identifies as Republican. Aha! Finally. One thing the Right and the Left have in common. No matter your political affiliation, you, too, can cheat on your spouse during a pandemic! SMH. Hide your kids, hide your wives, friends. 

But as a college Psych minor and ~hopeless romantic~ who believes that everyone has feelings deep down in their cold little hearts, I wanted to learn more about these cheaters’ intentions. What’s causing almost 20,000 people a day to resort to extramarital affairs during this temporary quarantine period? Does being around their partners this often right now truly suck so much that they need to sneak around behind—uhh, actually, wait, right in front of—their backs? Or is something more serious going on? I need answers. WE need answers. 

According to Keable, the site sees a lot of new signups following long periods of family time and heightened stress, like during the December holiday season. “This is a more intense version of this scenario, in that people are completely confined to their houses with their spouse,” says Keable. “Whether they’re in a happy or unhappy marriage, there’s going to be tension and it’s going to be amplified. Marriage isn’t designed to be a 24/7 thing and truthfully, this is probably the most time some married couples have ever spent together.” I mean, I can’t help but think that you should still be faithful to your partner even through trying times like these (for better or for worse, anybody?), but to each their own.

He continues, “What was once your spouse’s tolerable quirk has likely now become an insufferable quality, and all this forced time together and the added stress of what’s going on outside is revealing cracks in monogamous relationships. Having someone to talk to who’s experiencing similar feelings is going to be a huge relief, whether or not that turns into a virtually sexual relationship or it’s just someone to talk to when you can’t or don’t want to talk to your spouse.” Basically, what he’s saying is that people are out here finding flaws in their marriage during quarantine and are trying to fill those voids in secret to avoid causing bigger issues. So instead of communicating with your partner, you can just go behind your spouse’s back and find someone better on the internet! Smart. That way you don’t risk destroying your relationship—except I feel like talking through your problems will probably result in a better chance of improving it? But you do you, boos. *stares in judgment*

Anddd behold, Keable must’ve known I’m judging hard, so he elaborated on that point. “When options like divorce or couples therapy exist, people wonder, and often judge, why so many turn to Ashley Madison,” he says. (Not sure if that was a personal attack, but I’ll pretend I’m not offended.) “We’ve asked our members about those potential solutions and they say they come to us because those conversations don’t result in action and they don’t want to part ways with their partner. These days when the going gets rough, you’re expected to either bow to fate or end your marriage, but we offer a third path.” Enter: Infidelity! The Ashley Madison team has found that their members consider cheating on their spouse before they consider leaving them. I mean, I guess that’s inspirational if you consider trying every possible way to fix your relationship before ending it.

“Outsourcing an unmet need to them is more viable than expecting to get every need met by one person, which is the current expectation placed upon modern marriage. And when you love your partner, you love your family, and you’re emotionally and financially invested in your marriage, why would you want to put yourself through a costly and strenuous divorce when it’s just one thing that isn’t working?” He notes that most of the time, that one darn thing that ain’t cuttin’ it is physical intimacy. Fair, but still. IDK. Whatever helps y’all sleep at night.

“Ultimately, we’re hoping when the dust settles, the divorce lines are a bit shorter than we’ve seen in other countries that have reopened, and we were able to provide our members with a discreet coping strategy to get through this, without completely upending their life,” says Keable. “Our site offers a unique, albeit controversial, option so people can have their needs met without sacrificing the home life they value.” Well, if you think about it like that, this news doesn’t seem thhhaatttttt tragic. These people are just cheating because they don’t want to “hurt their partner,” even though what they’re doing would absolutely 100% hurt their partner if they ever found out!

But I understand. Kinda. Not really, actually. I’d never cheat on my boyfriend so I can’t relate—and as someone who’s currently quarantined with their partner, I have no idea how TF these people are even pulling this sh*t off. HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME OR SPACE? IDK. I’m not married with kids, so I don’t have to find a secret coping mechanism if I’m unhappy in my relationship. If you’re not as fortunate as I am, then godspeed. I hope everyone finds the outlet that works best for them and their relationship so we all get out of this quarantine alive and well, whether that means you gotta let go of the person you don’t love anymore or you gotta find someone on the internet to distract you from your problems until further notice. Tomayto, tomahto, I guess.

Images: Pexels, GIPHY (3)