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OPINION: We all need to be responsible, but now is not the time for social distance shaming.

The majority of the world has got the message: COVID-19 is not a drill.

Terrible news fills our every waking minute and we are all dealing with ever-changing social distancing laws that dictate what we can and can’t do in our home states.

Most people I observe seem to be adhering to them too. We are all gingerly standing on those taped floor crosses in queues at the shops and are overly careful not to get too close to anyone on the street.

Side note: Celebrities are getting creative in isolation. Post continues below. 

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Yet an article published on The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday about ‘virus vigilantes’ who film, report and shout at their neighbours for flouting social distancing rules, shows that not everyone feels the same.

I understand why people are on edge and I have noticed a slight change in attitudes in my suburb too.

The usual light-hearted and friendly banter at our local café has been replaced with brief pleasantries, as locals look at their phones and keep well away from each other.

I haven’t yet heard of anyone I know being ‘dobbed in’ by so-called virus vigilantes, but I am sure it just a matter of time as the fear around COVID-19 intensifies.

On my Facebook feed though, this fear and the accompanying judgement of others seems to be getting worse by the day.

There are posts about mums being ‘dumb’ for daring to take their kids shopping.

Posts about the ‘idiots’ who disregard the health of their fellow man by stopping to sit on a bench halfway through a walk.

And posts that condemn anyone who dares to complain about just being asked to ‘stay the f*ck home’ and sit on our sofas and watch Netflix.

Every time I read one of these posts or articles shaming some nameless ‘idiot’ for doing something foolish, I cringe.

I cringe because I have been all of these idiots at some point over the last month and I am sorry.

I also cringe because I am uncomfortable with the judgemental witch-hunt directed at families (often mums) who are undoubtedly having a hard time trying to work, entertain the kids, stay strong AND do the right thing at all times.

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I have had to take the kids shopping with me on the odd occasion that our meal planning has not been perfect and my husband has been at work.

I have also had to stop and sit mid-walk to let my three-year-old Leo have a rest.

I have certainly engaged in plenty of moaning about the restrictions on our new life. I know I should be grateful for all that I have, but I cannot maintain this gratitude 24/7.

I am truly sorry for all of these failings and believe me – my anxiety during walk breaks and shopping with the kids is sky-high as I am aware that judgement is rife and that my actions are far from ideal.

But there is a big difference between having 50 of your mates over for a party right now, and chatting to a neighbouring family in the coffee queue or taking the kids shopping, right? Perhaps not.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

I remember learning at school about The Blitz during World War II in London and what a terrible time it was. I also remember learning about how people occasionally flouted the strict laws telling them to stay at home.

This is a quote from 89-year-old Julia Draper recalling her memories of the Blitz for an article in The Independent in the UK.

“We had parties, pictures, theatre, plays. Sometimes young people met and had more romances in a carefree manner as no one knew what tomorrow held. We didn’t always obey orders, but it was most important that we tried to,” she said.

The intention was clear. Julia and her friends tried their best during extremely trying times.

Which is what can be said for most of us confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Like Julia, I am trying my best. Not just to obey the new laws and societal expectations demanded by the virus vigilantes of Facebook, but trying to keep myself and my family functioning as best as possible as we grieve for the world we thought we knew.

Feature Image: Getty.

To protect yourself and the community from COVID-19, remain in your home unless strictly necessary, keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

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