Vaccine status- vaccinated or not vaccinated? The new option on many dating and hookup apps seems innocuous enough. After all, it’s yet another thing people can easily say about themselves. It’s undoubtedly useful for those who need to be especially careful who they meet for health reasons. Yet it carries such weighted connotations. Why?
The apps don’t generally ask you your stance- they just say vaccinated or not vaccinated- yet, as with all binary options on dating and hookup sites, they divide people neatly into camps.
Vaccine status- does it mean that much?
At present, those under 45 in the UK without health conditions or a designated keyworker role aren’t even eligible. There are a small percentage who can’t get it due to severe allergies to the ingredients. There are people who don’t like the idea, but have taken the vaccine so they can spend time with a parent who is on chemotherapy with an imminent terminal diagnosis. Then there are those desperate to take the vaccine, who just aren’t eligible yet. There are those who are very eligible, yet have chosen a different self-narrative about where heroism lies. Vaccine status is a tricky beast.
What is true and what is propaganda? What is pseudoscience from charlatans trying to win fame and money at the cost of lives, versus what can we believe of a corrupt government who has possibly spun our country and the lives of its citizens into a terminal money-churning pharma factory?
What’s the agenda with vaccine status?
Now, my lovely libertines. I’m not going to tell you what to do. You have enough of that. Your hairdresser, taxi driver, friends, family, social media influencers, everyone- they are happy to tell you what to do. Those who know the real me, my background and life, will know where I stand on this, why, and how much my own judgement is worth compared to those of the epidemiologists, and the man on the street. That’s not important.
When we look at why people become evangelical about vaccine status, there are a few obvious reasons that present themselves:
We don’t have full knowledge, or full ability to process the knowledge
Even if you are a post-doctorate epidemiologist or immunologist (and some of you are. Remember the good times, wink wink) unless you have full access to the global information and the computing power to run statistical analyses on it, daily, you don’t have the full picture. This information is not something you can Google.
If you are not a post-doctorate immunologist or epidemiologist, you haven’t put in the ground work to analyse this information anyway. You can’t assume 10 years of advanced level learning is something you can just cobble together or Google while you’re on the toilet. You can’t dive into it for 2 solid weeks and come out at that level. It just doesn’t work that way. Any information you get is going to be second, third, fourth hand. Simplified to the point of nonsense. Or entirely made up. And you have no real way to evaluate the difference.
We don’t pick a side based on logic
As with voting, the vast majority of people, when faced with a level of uncertainty, don’t select the option which is presented as most logical, or the statistically best outcome. Rather, we rely on the opinions of people we trust. Our family. Our colleagues. Our friends.
These people don’t have full information either, but we instinctively believe they have our best interests at heart. We don’t choose as informed scientists. We choose due to tribal affiliation. Do we want to be ‘This kind of person’ or ‘That kind of person’. We see other indicators of how we imagine our idealised selves to be- as well as our markers of tribal identity to this group, and that is what sways us. We want to be the kind of person who ‘Believes this’ or ‘Does that’.
Hunting Humans goes into detail about this. Once you know someone’s idealised projected self? Who they want to be? Then you have the means to brutally manipulate them. We gain in-group acceptance by supporting, defending and protecting the ideas espoused by others more deeply entrenched in the group we wish to become or remain a part of. Just watch the people of Facebook demonstrate this odd flex in any given interest group. We are monkeys, when it comes to this. We haven’t changed in ten thousand years.
Everyone has an angle on vaccine status
There is no simple conversation in the media here. Everyone, absolutely everyone, wants to weigh in. Celebrities, relationship counsellors on Instagram, cartoonists, dieticians, beauticians. Are they cruising a trending hashtag? Why should their opinion mean anything? At best, they are virtue signalling to what they believe their own demographic will most approve of. At worst? They are actively taking payment to support a cause they don’t even understand.
We all like to feel that our choices are validated, that we are right, that everyone else is stupid. Yet the algorithms that exist online will pick up even subtle cues and push you in a polarised way to only seeing what they think you will like. That’s confirmational bias. You’ll see more and more that confirms what you already leant towards, and nothing else. It’s truly insidious. Buy organic carrots? Let’s show you some anti-vaxxer material. Mention healthcare workers in a conversation with your friend while you thought your phone wasn’t spying? Let’s send you some pro-vaccine civil responsibility media posts.
Nobody, absolutely nobody, gets full, accurate, correct and representative media coverage. You just can’t.
One thing is for sure, nobody has the option to opt out of an opinion on covid vaccination. None of us are really qualified to hold an opinion, but we all have to make a choice. And everyone’s choice has consequences.
Why is this important?
It’s not just the algorithms that take a quick peek at us and make sweeping judgements. We do it too. All the time. We have evolved to be able to sum anyone up in a moment and decide if they are a threat, a member of our community, an easy target to take food or a mate from, and 100 other things. There’s that monkey brain again.
It works, though. Most of the time. We evolved intelligent brains: pattern finding brains. IQ is literally a measurement of pattern recognition and prediction function. Getting it wrong meant death. This pattern recognition and prediction does, however, lead to a lot of problems too. We make sweeping generalisations. We assign qualities of one individual to all those who seem to resemble them. We stereotype, we judge. Then we make leaps of logic based on our own lived experience, because our brains like to force things to be simple and meaningful.
If you spent 10 minutes trying to decide whether the animal in the jungle with big, sharp teeth was a predator or dinner, you would never have made it home. If you can’t quickly see whether that person in the distance is friend or foe, to run, hide, attack or greet, based on a few simple cues, that’s the end of you.
Brains and computers
Between our evolutionary tendencies, our simplistic categorisation by internet AI and this spanking new people-divider (vaccine status), we can look at exactly how this new feature is working for us, in our hearts and minds.
If we combine vaccine status with political leanings, we can have a wonderful imaginary landscape of stereotypes to indulge in.
Now, lovely libertines, as you know, one of my many sinful delights is a little acerbic satire. So before you get deeply offended, I challenge you to see it through to the end and try to see my endgame. Or, just write me 60 abusive messages in the comments below. It’s all good with me. Whatever gets you off.
Let’s look at what people think when they see different combinations- you’ll be in there somewhere. Prepare to laugh at yourself or be outraged.
Non-vaccinated, politically right (conservative, republican, etc)
- Uses the phrase ‘sheeple’ then laughs, as though they created it and it’s funny
- Wears athleisure and baseball caps
- Has suped-up their car
- Has profile pictures with their car, holding a gun, or with an anaesthetised tiger
- Uses the phrase ‘It’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’ as an irrefutable argument to excuse homophobic behaviour, yet watches lesbian porn
- Reads the Sun newspaper or watches Fox news
- Probably an anti-masker and Covid denier
- Has probably been breaking lockdown constantly the entire time and is in part responsible for the 1 1/2 year pandemic
- Drinks Stella or Mountain Dew
- Curry, drink and a fight counts as a great Friday
- Has a tattoo of a Bulldog or national flag
- Refers to it as ‘the Chinese virus’
- Ironically buys Viagra produced by Pfizer but doesn’t trust their vaccine
- Doesn’t state a religion on their profile
Vaccinated, politically right
- Highest pandemic priority is when they can next go on holiday
- Has pre-booked pub and restaurant seats every weekend from April 12th until August
- Has been working from home in their garden throughout
- Probably reads the Telegraph or the Daily Mail
- Thinks Boris or Trump, and team, have done a sterling job under tricky circumstances
- Drinks red wine
- Has a Landrover or BMW
- A gastropub, fireside chat in their country pile and anal sex is their idea of a great Friday
- Doesn’t move out the way for people in the street walking the other direction
- Wears Tweed
- Has profile pictures playing polo, at a sunny location or in an art gallery
- Probably tried to get an early vaccination by up-playing their slight to moderate health concerns
- States one of the ‘big 5’ religions in their profile
- Thinks a hard step on the protests is a great plan
Unvaccinated, politically left (Labour, greens, SDP, democrat)
- Is probably a vegan, and tells people regularly, but wears leather accessories
- Thinks wearing a jade egg in the vagina is a good idea
- Practices mindful meditation, and tells people so regularly
- Doesn’t shave
- Has a septum ring or daith piercing, probably also an undercut
- Collects crystals
- Possibly a flat earther
- Thinks white people with dreads are not a problem
- Unironically buys vitamin D tablets produced by Pfizer as an alternative to the vaccine they make, despite the very sunny country of Brazil topping the Covid death rates
- Believes in angels, spirit guides or fairies, and tells people so often
- Refers to themselves as spiritual
- Starts fights with people on Facebook about terminology and the specific phrasing of sentences
- Is a home education fan
- Drinks herbal tea and smokes weed
- A great Friday is a music festival in a yurt
- Probably drives a T2 Volkswagen camper van
- Tells people off for breaking lockdown but regularly excused themselves from the rules
- Biggest pandemic concern was losing connection with people
Vaccinated, politically left
- Gives money to people begging on the tube/subway who aren’t really homeless
- Reads the Guardian
- Probably volunteered for something during lockdown
- Identifies as an atheist
- Has a notion to keep 3 chickens in the garden one day
- Clapped every Thursday for keyworkers and felt like that was actually helpful
- Good Friday night is meeting friends, going to somewhere quirky and drinking an alcohol substitute drink that costs twice what the alcohol would have
- Drives an electric car
- Biggest pandemic concern is loss of community, but especially their own personal community
- Brews their own wine and buys artisanal beer
- Likes to read about tantric sex and the deeper nuances of consent
- Has a drawer of wristbands from festivals that are over 5 years old
- Makes an effort to keep in touch with university friends and has annual reunions
- Consistently wishes for a hotline you could text when people on public transport aren’t wearing a mask
How did you fare as a Covid vaccine status/political stereotype?
Did you find yourself? Was it where you thought?
I’m willing to bet the following:
-Your own vaccine status and political leanings do not accurately describe you with the assumptions given above. Maybe some, maybe a lot, maybe none. But there’s no way that is you in your truth and essence.
-The vaccine status and political leanings for others that don’t match yours sounded reasonably accurate, or much what you’d imagine.
You see how these can’t both be true?
Stereotyping of people is just a way to dismiss their own lived experience. To confirm our own biases, tell ourselves we are right, that we are perfectly in the comfy middle of our tribe, our circle of likeminded sorts. If someone’s vaccine status and political leanings match ours, we think ‘great!’
It not only allows us to speculate that this newly presented person matches us in other ways, but it validates us in our own right-mindedness. Ultimately, isn’t seeking validation by replication the reason everyone wants to share their own opinion on the Covid vaccines? They don’t want debate, or to be educated, or informed. They want someone to tell them they are right. That their fears, motives or thoughts are valid. That they are doing the right thing.
Approve them, and be a new tribe member. Debate them, and show your ‘otherness’.
After all, who wants to listen to someone who they can see is not one of their own? Such opinions are not to be trusted. Are they?
How do I not be a Covid status snob?
Trying not to be judgemental of others on dating apps is always difficult. After all, we are presented a few carefully curated photos, a little free text and a list of interests or (often rather irrelevant) questions from which we are supposed to decide who we would like to speak to and meet. The entire set-up is nothing but cues from which were are expected to build a complete picture.
Perhaps the answer is this: When we take the time to talk to those we expect to be different, and listen rather than just preach, we have the chance to learn something of value from them. We get to dive beneath the surface, cultivate a discourse, and understand something more than a divisive statistic. Perhaps rather than dismiss them, we can try a little more to understand them. Nobody comes to any decision without a lived experience that forms their history, needs, wants, and desires for their future life and how they wish to be perceived. If you didn’t match your stereotype category, then why should they?
Happy hunting libertines