What is our likelihood of massive unrest?
In a display of juvenile gallows humor, the hashtag #BoomerRemover, a nickname for the novel coronavirus, briefly trended on Twitter last weekend.
Across Europe, where social life is shutting down faster than in the U.S., a divide is spreading between the young, many of whom say they don’t fear the virus, and their elders, including politicians and scientists, whose alarm about the illness is growing by the day.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself, in her first press conference on the epidemic, urged young people to respect the new social restrictions for their grandparents’ sake.
Despite the pointed fingers and occasional excesses, many young people bristle at the accusation of selfishness, saying the new social constraints are disproportionate and unfairly target their generation.
“They’re preventing us from living,” said Timothée Thierry, a 30-year-old statistician at France’s health ministry. He spoke on Sunday, after the government shut down bars but before it locked down the entire country.
Joanne Wasserman, a 65-year-old communications consultant, tried to break the monotony of days indoors on Sunday by going for a walk through her Brooklyn neighborhood. While she took care to avoid crowds, she was surprised to see a gaggle of people in their 20s and 30s standing outside a packed restaurant.
"I was shocked," she said. Heart racing, she summoned the courage to confront them, asking, "Are you guys are aware of what's going on?"
The response was sudden and severe, she recalled: "We are trying to have a nice Sunday, so why don't you just fuck off!"
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