The rise of vaccine virtue-signalling

25 May 2021

3:00 PM

25 May 2021

3:00 PM

I’ve bemoaned the ‘no Tories please’ line on dating profiles many a time. Closed-minded and over-used, it’s a banal way for university freshers to virtue signal their wokeness. It’s a phase many go through, and, more’s the pity, do not all grow out of.

But as of late, a new, equally lacklustre profile-essential has emerged — one’s Covid vaccine record. Across the pond in the USA, where I’m currently based, twenty-somethings seem set on flaunting their team Pfizer, Moderna, or one-shot Johnson & Johnson credentials. And this begs the question of why?

Because, to be quite honest, few things would make me swipe left faster.

Take Payne, a 23-year-old financial journalist, whose Hinge profile reads ‘I take pride in… my covid vaccine’. Are his accomplishments so few in number that getting an injection is noteworthy for him, or is he genuinely proud of the fact he’s rolled up his sleeve, joining the likes of millions of other vaccinated Americans? Either way, it’s a no from me. Or how about James, a law firm associate, whose appearance I can’t judge as his Hinge profile picture is a photo of his vaccine card?

Bumble’s hopefuls offer no greater originality of thought, with countless profiles listing ‘vaccinated’ in their bios. Curious, and probably a sign of me needing a few new hobbies, I decided to calculate just how common a trope this was. On average, I came across one profile a minute that included this one-worder, or a variant of. Some would-be daters even devote the entire ‘about me’ box to the issue.

Please let us not mistake a vaccine shot for a personality. If your response to ‘tell me about yourself’ features your medical history, you really aren’t selling yourself. In liberal, metropolitan New York, where everyone over 18 is eligible for the vaccine and it couldn’t be easier to find providers, antibodied lads and lasses should stop thinking they’re quite so special. It’s been a long year of inescapable Covid-this and Covid-that. I could do without your freshly jabbed arm as a conversation starter.

Of course, those inclined to give the young the benefit of the doubt will say this immunisation CV puts other singletons at ease. We must, after all, stay safe in these unprecedented times. Last week Andy Salvitt, a White House senior adviser on the response to Covid-19 announced that dating sites like Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge were ‘announcing a series of features to encourage vaccinations and help meet people who have that universally attractive quality: they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19’. To such a chorus of cotton wool-wrapped kill joys, I say give me a break.

And, to be frank, if you’re on Tinder for a quick hook up, then AstraZeneca’d Amy shouldn’t really check more boxes than haven’t-got-around-to-it Hannah. If you’re not asking for STD checks then you probably shouldn’t be bothered about Covid.

Far from being a public safety announcement, I suspect the obsession with proclaiming vaccine status mirrors much of the ‘no Tories please’ showmanship. On this side of the pond, attitudes to vaccines are more politically divided than what you’ll find back in Blighty. Republicans tend to be more vaccine hesitant than their Democratic counterparts, and states with higher Trump vote-share trail behind blue Biden states for rolling out the vaccine. Including your vaccine clan in your dating bio is a not-so-subtle way of saying your vote is in vogue. Or, if you are a conservative young person, you’re not one of those Republicans.

Getting up from dinner the other night — a warm sunny evening, I might add — my fully vaccinated friend donned her facemask for our walk to the station lest she ‘look like a Trump supporter’. As a young, ethnic female, her chances of being pinned as such were slim. All the same, for the sake of keeping up political appearances, on the mask went.

And so while I rejoice at the news coming from England that Boris Johnson has scrapped plans to introduce vaccine-passports for pubs, I’m reminded that the fiasco is far from over. If the US is anything to go by, the obsession with virtue-signalling our vaccine status will not go away anytime soon.

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