Lagging behind in Slovakia
Why the anti-vaxx movement is the expression of humanity’s desire to die
By Jakub Ivanecky
Image courtesy of US Secretary of Defense via Wikipedia Commons
Today was the first day of my trip home to Slovakia and besides the horrendous dread of me staying with my family again, I question whether it was worth the effort I spent sorting out all the preparations and paperwork. Being a cynical man, I think that was answered when I saw the look on the border patrol officer´s face as she forced me to admit that I screwed up my passenger locator form at 11 at night. As she sent me through the airport with a weary sigh of someone who was expecting to argue about personal liberties, I was not really bothered, so I think it ended rather well.
As well as my documents, I spent quite a few times looking up some coronavirus statistics online, possibly the greatest fallacy of a person who wants to stop being anxious about travelling. Slovakia and Covid-19: the only two things that bring more memories screaming back to me than Catholic sex education. Apparently, whilst the denial of coronavirus in Slovakia is not as vocal as say Britain or, God forbid, the United States, it has achieved some lasting consequences. To this day, only 40% of the Slovak population is fully vaccinated, with over 55% not being even registered for their first dose and although these could be blamed on a lot of things, most notably the shitshow people observe on both social and mass media, people with who I have met gave me a simpler answer: “Why bother?” Possibly the best question defining the current Slovak attitude, right after “Don´t do that, what would Mrs Kovac from the other side of the village would think of me?!”
To address why you should bother: firstly, it saves lives. I am not going into naming every study that proved that, I refuse to do your fucking homework for you of which I did for too many in late primary. Secondly, it prevents people from overcrowding hospitals, an issue discussed so much in this country —specifically complaining about the waiting lists in hospitals. You’d think vaccination would be more in demand, and that was before we were in the early scenes of the movie I Am Legend. With the healthcare sector being what it is in this country, going to a hospital carries a 3-hour period of sitting in the waiting room. Only difference nowadays is that you get to take coronavirus home with you, alongside the standard complementary herpes. Thirdly, so that we can stop being afraid to go outside. With further and further restrictions being loosened in other countries, the traffic of our modern globalized society is picking up, merely evident from the fact that in this very train I am writing this on has roughly 500 people, the whole viewership of a new BBC 3 documentary. With that amount of people travelling daily across the country, all it takes is one person to sneeze on an elderly person, and we are right back where we fucking started. Furthermore, that is just domestic travel. I am specifically omitting international travel because our political classes will immediately try to score points by blaming this shitshow on anyone other than themselves.
Rather than checking how many people from different age groups we put up for vaccinations, our government decided we are going to prioritise the elderly literally everywhere. People were banned from entering the shops at certain hours so that pensioners could get their shopping safely. A sweet gesture, I only wish it did not make people around 50 years old even more insufferable, of course, a completely impossible wish.
Then the grievers came in. From the 5G conspiracy people to the ‘microchips in the vaccine to track you’ believers (having a GPS-enabled device in their pocket all the time) to people who know more about their neighbours’ sex life than about their own privilege. And oh boy, this was like all their snow days came up at once as their pathetic cries for attention and validation joined into the heroic anthem of obnoxiousness. Being an anti-vaxxer became a trend with more and more prominent people voicing their opinion on scientifically proven methods. At least it reigned in the young people, for there is not a better punishment than forcing a 20-something year old to learn what comes out of the mouth of a middle-aged anti-vaxxer.
Not sure to say whether thankfully or ironically, but we have a person like that on the next street from me. From April 2020, watching his descent into madness was like watching the Hindenburg catastrophe with a Benny-Hill theme tune. What started out as a leaflet-like structure on the side of his bins, it spiralled into a front-yard campaign zeal that political canvassers and suburban associations can only dream of. As his crusade against common sense continued, he lumped himself into other stuff, like US election fraud, because once you go crazy, you might as well go full crazy. He even posted, and this is seriously not a joke: ‘10 Stages of Genocide’ on his front yard, screaming about how people like him get to be oppressed. The only oppression that a white Western-European man can get these days is if the Polish bartender wants to cut him off because he has just pissed into a glass and then asks if he could get topped up with a half-pint of Tennent’s.
But his shenanigans actually inspired me to ponder ‘he just needs a hobby, doesn’t he?’ And observing the behaviour of Slovaks, it seems to match up. We did not have a national pastime since we stopped bitching about Eurovision. There is of course hockey and football, but for that we would have to be somewhat good at it. With this new entertainment and newfound purpose in life, they march almost every month in front of the Presidential Palace as if they are channelling the Russian Revolution, which with how many of those dimwits are Russophiles, might even be the intent. These are our own ‘suicide bombers’ — people who proclaim great rights and liberties only to make the rest of us feel shame. Their ignorance is only superseded by what I only can describe as a desire to die, especially because many of these people do not start off as brainwashed. Calling someone radicalised on the internet, is the new version of the infamous cop out ‘God moves in mysterious ways,’ as it describes a result, rather than explains it. This ‘why bother’ attitude from the start could be the symptom of something more than Facebook trolls, incels and fascists. It is the lack of clear answers from people in power. Isn’t that why they are there!? Once the top of society fails, many of us lose hope. Seek our own answers, seek our new targets of hatred that have been building up from the lack of clarity in our lives—with many losing the will to live along the way.
After all, it is the apathy rather than hatred that stops people from action. Banning something only makes it more popular, that is why people still smoke marijuana despite it being illegal and every attempt at further strengthening the prohibition only results in more weed to get through. People seem to listen to the evidence when it is presented to them, they just do not care. Calling them ignorant only makes them join those hateful bastards marching in the street moreover. Maybe there is one thing we can do, and whilst it is not the best thing, it provides a temporary solution. Live life, not out of clear desire to achieve something, but out of spite. Go out and prove to all the people we are embarrassed about that the vaccines work, and we are the living proof of that. Go out and prove that people should trust academia and science rather than a Karen with an overzealous autocorrect. Let us transform the anger, frustration, and ignorance into something more worthwhile; after all, these emotions have been with us long enough, it is time to do something about them.