Occupying the middle place: the struggle of the Corona Check App

This is gonna be a pretty personal blog, so bear with me and believe that I have my own reasons for making certain choices. 

I know that it’s a pretty unpopular opinion, and an even more unpopular choice right now, but I don’t feel comfortable with taking a vaccination, and have thus not (yet) received my corona vaccination(s). I say ‘yet’ here because the pressure to get vaccinated has been growing rapidly and I foresee a future where I’ll need to be vaccinated or tested for everything I do (including grocery shopping or going to university). Or worse, if the measurements procede that allow unvaccinated people to be excluded from social life altogether. 

Testing, testing, testing

It’s not like I reject everything that ‘helps to stop the spread of the virus’, which is above all the goal right now according to our government. I get tested on a very regular basis, since I have a social life that I wish to maintain. 

In a normal week I get tested between 1 to 4 or 5 times. 

Every week, I make the appointments, go to a test location (which luckily enough is now possible in various places in Leiden itself, because before I needed to bike 25 minutes to get to a Testen Voor Toegang location) and have a nice stick poked into my brain to then have the test results in my mailbox in 30-90 minutes. And if you have ever been tested, you know that it’s not the best experience in the world to have that stick poked into your throat and nose (although I have become rather used to it by now) and I bet that it’s not very healthy either. But it’s worth it, this way I get to go out and have a social life. This way I can get that oh so important QR code that is more vigorously checked than ID cards these days. 

They thought out this testing process very well by the way. The QR code you get is valid for 24 hours, great! BUT the latest time you can get tested is 18:00. This means that if you have something on two consecutive nights (which is generally when social activities take place), you’ll need to get tested twice. I can’t use my 24 hour code for more than 1 activity, since the activities start at 20:00 and my code is valid until max. 19:00. Very smart indeed, pushing people towards the vaccination more and more. 

The odd one out

Apart from these annoyances, I’m still not comfortable telling people I barely know that I’m not vaccinated. They immediately respond to me differently. They look at me funny (as if I’m insane and dangerous), ask why in god’s name I didn’t just take the vaccine (it was right there and everybody recommended it) and assure me that it’s very safe and won’t have any impact on me at all (I mean many scientists worked on it, so it’s perfectly safe!). Or worse, they don’t even ask and just keep their distance.

But the funny thing is, I’m not the danger here…

I KNOW that I don’t have Covid, I’ve been tested for it multiple times this week and all results were negative. Apparently, it was a personal attack against others when I decided not to get that needle jammed into my arm. I’ve been reminded of this plenty of times by both the government (thanks for the shoutout Hugo) and people in my surroundings. I should have taken the vaccine in order to protect others. But I won’t go into this argument now, because it will get very emotional and heated and that’s not the goal of this blogpost. The goal of the blogpost is to point out the weird spot I occupy in today’s society. 

Scanning without being scannable 

As I described before, it is really annoying and tiring to get tested so often just to be able to have a social life, and people respond differently to me when they know I’m not vaccinated. But that is not the only aspect of our current life with QR codes that makes me feel like the odd one out…. It so happens that I work in a restaurant. 

This means that I have to scan people’s QR codes as part of my job, while I myself have none. This puts me in a very uncomfortable place since I need to reject people from entering onto our terrace or into our restaurant if they don’t have their QR code, while I’m in the same position as the people I need to reject. It puts me in this weird middle ground of having a certain privilege (being allowed into the restaurant without QR) because I work there, while being denied that privilege anywhere else. This middle ground is exactly what I feel like right now; I’m not vaccinated but I do get tested, I have a QR code most of the time but not enough to have a spontaneous social life, I work in a restaurant where I otherwise would be denied access at times, I float between part of the group (when I have the QR code and nobody knows) and the odd one out (when I can’t join spontaneous plans because I lack the QR code), etc. etc..

The middle place

I feel like our society nowadays is more than two opposing groups, it’s fractured into many more parts. It’s both of the extreme ends — at one side the government and on the other the anti-vax ‘wappies’– screaming at each other to ‘think’ (both sides have very different understandings of this word) that drowns out the middle ground, occupied by people like me. I don’t feel like the enemy of the people, but I’m made out to be by both sides. I am either endangering others by not getting vaccinated or giving in to the unhealthy and insane demands of the government by regularly getting tested. My life in this place in the middle is very hard, I’m screamed at from both sides and can’t make up my own mind through the screaming match. It’s not a free choice to get vaccinated anymore, you always betray one side of society and endanger yourself in doing so (either you can get covid or you expose yourself to the possible side effects). 

But apart from this inevitable betrayal, you have this digital aspect, the QR code, that is becoming so vital in everyday life that I can barely keep to the decision to not get vaccinated. Right now, it’s just the thing of my spontaneity being killed off but soon it will invade other aspects of my life as well. Luckily I can still go sporting since I have a registration at the University’s Sports Centre and not at a regular gym, but going to a museum, having coffee with some friends, and soon maybe even going shopping, are all things I need to plan way in advance now. So, here I am still, stuck in the middle place but being very hardly persuaded into the vaccinated camp. Maybe the next time you’ll see me I’ll have made the decision to cross over from this middle place or maybe I won’t, who knows. It’s just hard being here, but even harder to make the decision to leave.