What it feels like to be privileged during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Pooja Mukherjee
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I am typing away my new blog on my laptop while sitting in an air-conditioned room and hearing news from the other room about the latest casualties due to coronavirus in my country. Am I privileged? Yes. Am I saddened by the COVID-19 situation the world is going through? Yes. But what can I do about it? Staying away from everyone, apparently.  

Dire times need kindness and affection from everyone, but the coronavirus pandemic is asking humans to distance themselves from others and live life alone. With no idea about the future, people have been asked to fend themselves by most governments, and each day feels like a war for many. But not for a certain class of the society who are witnessing the world crumble around them through their LCD Smart TV screens. The privileged are exempted from worrying about food, living situations in war-torn countries, losing their job, or the fighting coronavirus on the frontlines. 

Who are the privileged in this pandemic?

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt differently by different classes of society. History has shown how pandemics like the bubonic plague or cholera both influence and to get influenced by social, economic, and political factors of the country. 

The COVID-19 is a direct threat to people belonging to marginalized communities, especially in under-developed countries that have a low human development index (HDI). On the other hand, the privileged are updated about awareness regarding the pandemic, have access to basic healthcare, won’t have to worry about paying bills because of a sustainable amount in savings, and most importantly, don’t fear death from hunger.

The millennials and the Gen Z, who have no idea of what a pandemic is, believe themselves to be protected from the virus, thanks to their hoarding up of essential supplies like sanitizers, masks, hand gloves, and toilet paper, just in time, to enjoy a long quarantine “vacation.” In the words of Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the Director-General of WHO, “there’s this sense of invulnerability among millennials.” 

The COVID-19 virus doesn’t affect people based on their caste, creed, status, or culture, but the privileged are the only ones who have a chance at fighting it.

Difference in problems faced during the COVID-19 pandemic

The problems which one would face during the COVID-19 pandemic heavily depend upon in which world you live in. If you are thinking about what to choose for dinner today or which friend to catch up with over Zoom, then your list of worries is not that long.


Apparently, the privilege of idealizing the coronavirus is trending over social media now. Thousands of memes are being shared by people on how the pandemic is the wrath of Mother Earth. That the situation just needs time to heal, and everything will be back to normal once the summer sets in. 

While it may sound effortless to assume such scenarios from your iPhone, we are on the verge of mass starvation and panic if the virus persists. Governments are doing their best to contain the virus with country-wide lockdown and rampant testing, but people who are affected the most are not being heard because guess what, they don’t use social media.

Differences between classes of society

The necessities of life are not evenly distributed among the different classes of society. While the privileged can indulge in isolating in luxurious homes, boosting immunity with organic, costly food choices, sanitizing their surroundings, and working from home, the poor and the marginalized are exempted from the basic standards of living.

As a person who belongs to a well-to-do family, affording healthcare, or even private testing of COVID-19 is a boon. The stark difference between the two worlds is astonishing. While people are stranded in foreign lands, rationing food, and waiting for the virus to end to go back home, we are busy writing blogs and poems about how this virus will end, and the world will become a better place. While 5% of the world is busy in reinventing themselves in this isolation period, the other 95% is struggling to live. 

However, not all is lost, and not everything is in vain. People are trying to connect over digital platforms to fight the anxiousness of staying in isolation. The uncertainty of the end of the pandemic is bringing people together in times of despair. Various organizations are dedicating their time towards helping the marginalized and poor, which does show a sliver of hope in humanity. Governments are taking stern decisions to contain the pandemic and its adversities and save the economy from months of recession, which is yet to come. Only time will tell how many we will lose because of pandemic or hunger.

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