On the surface, this pandemic photo by the AP’s Jacquelyn Martin is about fringe actors. (You can read about the hyper-conscientious kid in the caption; the proselytizers speak for themselves.) It documents those defying social distancing to greet the peak cherry blossom bloom in DC.
The true subject, though, is mental health.
The photo isn’t about eccentricity, it’s about symptoms. Symptoms that we are all suffering right now. As the coronavirus ravages the United States, and as unemployment skyrockets side-by-side with the infection and the death rate, this photo puts psychology and coping on the table.
Simply put, it highlights the effect fear, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, loss, denial, and the viciously reconstituting daily reality is having on us all. Craziness comes when we can’t find either adequate and consistent safety, perspective, or peace. This photo isn’t about people who are “off” as much as it’s guidance that we are all off right now.
Photo: @jacquelynmartin @AP
Caption: “I’m not worried for me since I’m young,” says the 17-year-old in the yellow hazmat suit and green gas mask, that he got off of Amazon, “I’m wearing this in case I come into contact with anyone who is older so that I won’t be a threat to them.” He plans to wear his protective outfit for coronavirus each time he leaves the house.