With reports of new infections and casualties coming in seemingly everyday, the coronavirus outbreak has caused the world to be on its guard and rightfully so. The disease is absolutely terrifying and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be at least a little scared.
While Australia has been largely okay so far, the few confirmed cases of coronavirus in our country has caused some Asian parents to go way over the top when it comes to protecting themselves and their families from the disease. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered streets so devoid of Asian people, nor have I ever witness such a shortage of face masks and hand sanitiser.
Speaking of the coronavirus, the GOAT team break down the outbreak of the disease and what it all means on It’s Been A Big Day For… below:
My mum is a Chinese immigrant and fiercely patriotic to the “homeland” (this’ll become important later) so I copped this sort of coronavirus paranoia first-hand. Like a broken record player stuck on loop, she would repeatedly tell me things like “Make sure you stay inside! Wear a face mask! Use hand sanitiser!” It’s incredibly irritating but this sort of stuff is not that unusual. Hell, that’s what she says every flu season.
But this coronavirus outbreak was a different beast. My mum has never really fully accepted my career choice to be a journalist/writer and passively-aggressively resents the fact that I chose reporting over engineering – something which I’m sure folks with Asian parents can relate to.
Combine my journalism career, my mum’s aforementioned patriotism and resentment, the amount of misinformation going around about the coronavirus, and one dinner conversation encompassing all of the above, what you get is a complete shattering of our relationship. I never had the closest relationship with my mum before but this was the first time I ever thought this of her: she is a f**king idiot and a complete lost cause.
Here’s a summary of how it all went down but in short, the breakdown of the relationship between my mum and I happened started slowly before escalating exponentially like, well, the spread of the coronavirus actually:
- She starts telling me how Chinese people are eating bats as a cure for the disease, to which I simply had to say isn’t real or true and to tell her (for the 1000th time) to stop taking things on Facebook at face value.
- She then says everything is fake news anyway and she doesn’t believe anything besides what the Chinese government puts out. Swallowing my incredulity over her admission that she believes China’s propaganda, I tell her to maybe read reputable news sources such as The Guardian and The New York Times, only to be told that they’re all fake news and all journalists aren’t trustworthy. There was no trace of irony whatsoever.
- From the coronavirus, she turns her attention to the Hong Kong protests. Not only does she stamp her foot on the pro-Beijing side of things, she tells me that the Americans were actually paying protesters to riot, which is definitely NOT TRUE.
- In a last ditch attempt to tell her that’s fake information, she simply pats me on the head and says I’ve been brainwashed by the American media.
At the end of all that, I was just deflated had only one response left in me:
Now it would’ve been salvageable had this been an isolated incident, but this pattern of me trying to explain things and my mum condescendingly insulting me and my profession with no sense of self-awareness has happened several times in the past and she always brushed it off with an Asian parent equivalent of “it’s just a joke, bro”. It seems like this time it was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
Since then, I’ve not spoken to my mum nor do I think I will for a long time. But in getting all this stuff about my mum out in the open, I’m now wondering what exactly am I trying to say here about our relationship and the coronavirus.
Is this a piece on the dangers of misinformation about the disease (and Hong Kong) and how we need to be more vigilant on fake news? I guess, and we do need to be more vigilant due to the way social media works and how China is sort of pseudo-authoritarianism in its actions and propaganda this days.
Is this a scathing critique on how Asian parents are detrimental to one’s mental health? You could read it like that because they can indeed be the absolute worst, but my situation may be more of an exception to the rule since I don’t think many Asian parents are on the same crazy wavelength as my mum.
Or is this just the ramblings of a guy with some unresolved parental issues trying to process everything that’s happened in the last few months? You won’t get any arguments from me on that.
Perhaps the relationship between my mum and I was always going to breakdown one way or another regardless of the coronavirus scare. In a way, it’s sort of sad that it had to happen, but in another way it is incredibly freeing because a big burden of pressure and unwanted mental anguish has been lifted from my shoulders.
I used to sarcastically tell my friends that if I stayed in Australia then I’ll be safe from the coronavirus. It turns out my claims that the disease will never affect me was completely wrong. But instead of breaking down my body, it broke down whatever relationship I had left with my mum.
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