How to be a Decent Person in America in 2020

Stay home as much as you can.

Wave to your neighbors when you go outside.

Give other people a lot of space: cede the sidewalk, use a different aisle, stand back, move your chair.

Wear a mask in public places, especially indoors.

If you can’t or won’t wear a mask, don’t go to places where masks are required and stay away from other people.

Call your mother.

Say no to some things. You don’t need to attend every Zoom meetup.

Say yes to some things. It’s good to stay connected, even if only virtually.

Say thank you.

Don’t spit or cough on anyone.

Don’t punch anyone.

Don’t shoot anyone.

Don’t kill anyone, even if you are wearing a uniform and they are not, even if they ask you to put on a mask and you don’t want to wear one, even if they are running through your neighborhood and you don’t recognize them, even if they disagree with you or shout at you or tell you they think you are stupid. Don’t kill anyone.

Get some exercise.

Buy books from local bookstores. Most will deliver or let you pick up your order curbside. Or use Bookshop, a handy online site that supports local bookstores.

Read a book.

Don’t call people thugs.

This cat is a jerk, but I’m nice to him anyway.

Be nice to dogs and children and cats, even though cats are jerks that wake you up at 4 o’clock in the morning by walking across your face.

Don’t call the police when you meet someone who doesn’t look like you.

Be patient with other people.

Be patient with yourself.

Don’t threaten people. Words matter and your threats have consequences, even when you deliver them via Twitter like a coward.

Take a nap if you need one.

Drink water.

Eat a vegetable.

Eat some ice cream or chocolate cake or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos if you like that sort of thing.

Stay informed, but don’t spend every minute scrolling through newsfeeds or watching cable news networks. And if you get all your news from one source, branch out. Change the channel. Subscribe to a different newspaper.

Subscribe to a newspaper.

Have conversations with people who don’t agree with you.

Learn to recognize that anytime you use phrases like “those people” or “that generation,” you are probably saying something stupid.

Turn off your social media notifications for at least a few hours each day.

Call your representatives and tell them what you think. They work for you.

Don’t be a jerk.


Tiffany Quay Tyson
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