This series documents stories from the Herman Cain Awards subreddit, tracking the COVID mis- and disinformation on Facebook that is leading to so many deaths. In a first, today’s cautionary tale is memorialized by her own brother.
This Reddit poster posted the screenshots below after his sister died of COVID. He explained his motivation here:
Please understand my reason for sharing this is not to shame my dead sister. She was scared, alone, depressed, vulnerable. In other words, a prime target for conspiracies. I share this as I’ve read some posts here where people have been inspired to get vaccinated. People seem to only think about their strength in being able to battle COVID, and not the devastation your loved ones experience if you’re wrong. Please think about your children and your families. Don’t put them through this living hell. ❤️
He starts with some quick background. She was the usual run-of-the-mill anti-vaxxer.
So … wearing seat belts is not in our best interest? Bicycle helmets? Smoke detectors? All of them fit the definition above. But whatever, today isn’t so much about analyzing memes.
Her brother now shares one of his last conversations with her via text.
I keep writing it, because I still can’t believe it: this right-wing conspiracy apparatus has short-circuited the core parental instinct to protect one’s children at all costs. Her brother worries about leaving her children motherless, and the response is “Lol.” It’s ghastly.
She suffered from obesity and was older. Her brother knew she was high-risk. But there’s that certainty we see in so many memes, the “I’m a lion and so so tough” stuff, or “the Bible is the only shield I need” stuff, as if the virus cares about one’s deluded self-image or religious beliefs.
He even got her to admit that the delta variant was nastier than whatever it was she supposedly had before, and that she’d suffer more if she caught it, but “not gonna die” was the response. So, so certain.
At some undetermined future, the woman got COVID again, but refused to go to the hospital, convinced that hospitals were killing people. The woman’s daughter, the poster’s niece, was worried about her inability to get in touch with her mom.
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What you may not see or interpret through my tone is the immense sorrow and suffering myself and my family feel. Not being able to eat, sleep, or stop crying for more than 10 minutes is truly awful. Asking her kids if she would want a white or silver casket is awful. Calling her apartment manager to arrange a hazmat team is awful. It’s all just awful. There is no joy or ‘gotcha’ moment here. Just immense, unnecessary pain.
No, the vaccine might not have saved her. We will never know. She was convinced they kill you at the hospital so the last time anyone saw her alive, she refused to go. It sure would have been better odds than the alternative, which is to stay home and do nothing.
The right-wing conspiracy mis- and disinformation machine short-circuits lots of things. Parenting instincts, yes. But also simple consideration over how your actions affect your loved ones. Is that really how this woman wanted her daughter to remember her? Dead at home, decomposing to the point that they needed a hazmat team to collect her remains? Does she want to be remembered as someone who literally laughed at the fear that her children would be left motherless?
This is why I’ve got no schadenfreude left for the vast majority of these cases. The individuals might’ve been deplorables, but many were victims of this nefarious, killer propaganda machine. They might be lonely, living with mental illness, or enduring trauma that makes them susceptible to the siren song of conspiracy.
But then there’s also the loved ones. Death, in itself, wreaks so much devastation. But a preventable, avoidable, unnecessary one? The damage is exponentially worse.
It’s all just so tragic, so sad. And I wish it would end.