diamond geezer

 Friday, February 26, 2021

I spotted this advert above the Bow Roundabout yesterday. It annoyed me enormously.

It's part of the government's latest 'Keep going' campaign, appealing to us to remain in lockdown despite all the good news of recent days. We might be tempted to ease up given that transmission rates are declining, vaccine rollout has been successful and all eyes are on future easing of restrictions... whereas in reality at least four more weeks remain before the 'stay at home' order gets lifted. Fair enough.

But the strapline 'Every opened window makes a difference' is a downright lie. Some opened windows make a difference, depending on where they are and who's in the room being ventilated, but the idea that 'Every opened window makes a difference' is bolx. Opening a window has no effect if nobody in a room is infected. Opening a window might not be sufficient to prevent transmission. Opening a window at the end of an indoor meeting is too late. Sure ventilation is important and people need to recognise this, so the underlying message is sound. But that use of 'every' converts this message to an untruth, which isn't something a government trying to maintain public confidence should be doing. I live alone ffs, so opening as many windows as I can would have absolutely no effect on the health of anyone else whatsoever.

I hung around and got more annoyed. This digital screen beside the flyover shows a sequence of digital adverts and the other four in the series are just as bad.

The strapline 'Every day at home is making a difference' is a downright lie. Some days at home make a difference, if they prevent you transmitting the disease or being infected elsewhere, but the idea that 'Every day at home is making a difference' is bolx. Going out has no effect if you meet nobody while you're there. Going out has no effect if you're not contagious and none of the people you pass are contagious either. Going out is fine if all you're going to do is walk round a field. Going out might actually be preferable if the infectious person is indoors. Sure staying at home is important, especially when your oblivious journey might set in train a chain of infection resulting in long-term ill-health. But that use of 'every' converts this message to an untruth, which isn't something a government trying to maintain public confidence should be doing.

The strapline 'Every washed hand is making a difference' is a downright lie. Some washed hands make a difference, and a very big difference too, but the idea that 'Every washed hand is making a difference' is bolx. Washing your hands has no effect if there's nothing viral on them. Washing your hands doesn't prevent spread if you already washed them two minutes ago. Even if transmission by touch is how you caught the disease, and experts dispute its significance, 99% of your hand washing activity over the last year was irrelevant. Sure washing your hands more regularly is a great public health message, but that use of 'every' converts this message to an untruth, which isn't something a government trying to maintain public confidence should be doing.

The strapline 'Every covered face is making a difference' is a downright lie. Some covered faces make a difference, assuming both mouth and nose are included, but the idea that 'Every covered face is making a difference' is bolx. Covering your face has no effect on others if you're not infectious. Covering your face has no effect on you if the people you interact with aren't infectious either. Some face coverings are so thin as to be useless. Some people who wear face coverings take greater risks by incorrectly assuming they're protected. Sure covering your face is important, given nobody knows their infection status for certain, but that use of 'every' converts this message to an untruth, which isn't something a government trying to maintain public confidence should be doing.

The strapline 'Every video call is making a difference' is a downright lie. Some video calls are made from offices. Some video calls are never meant to be a replacement for a face-to-face meeting. Some video calls last less than five seconds. Some video calls are between people in the same household. There are a million and one reasons why a video call might make no difference whatsoever, so whoever threw this campaign together has essentially constructed a cavalcade of exaggeration, a carousel of lies. The TV ad is worse.
Every sacrifice, every day at home, every covered face, every wipe, every step aside, every 20 seconds, every friend unhugged, everything we're doing is helping to stop the spread of Covid-19. Let's keep going.
All these things help sometimes, not always. All these things are important but none are 100% certainties. All these things make a difference if everyone does them, but that's not the same thing. A simple tweak from "is helping" to "could help" would solve it. The liberal use of 'every' in advertising collateral is a stain on modern society.

I should point out I'm slagging off the wording not the underlying message. I'm not one of those sceptic cockwombles who refuse to believe the science but will take batshit conspiracy theories at face value. These are the deluded muppets who claim none of this is worth it - no face coverings, no steps aside, no days spent at home - and 'none' is far worse than 'every'. So it doesn't help when the government starts pushing a campaign that can be too easily debunked for going too far the other way. Don't overstate it, just tell us straight.

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