'Travel shaming' becoming new social media trend amid pandemic

PHILADELPHIA -- While millions of Americans are staying home during the pandemic, millions of others are traveling and getting together with friends and family. While pandemic fatigue is affecting a lot of people, pandemic anger is getting to some people, too.

"It's a shame. You don't want to say it's their prerogative, but they should be a little more cautious. I'm tired of wearing a mask. I went and bought braces and I can't show off my beautiful smile," said Carin Thomas from West Philadelphia.

"I tell them all the time, 'Don't come near me if you don't have a mask on.' I don't care if I have mine on. Don't shake my hand, don't reach your hand out. I don't mean no harm, but I have to stay safe," said Damian Powers from Germantown.

Our story on Action News about holiday travel being six times what AAA projected sparked comments like, "this is why kids can't go back to school" and "they only have to blame themselves if they get sick."

SEE ALSO: 'Mom's worth it': US holiday travel surges despite COVID-19 outbreak
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Millions of Americans are traveling ahead of Christmas and New Year's, despite pleas from public health experts.

Others defended travelers saying, "People are living their lives."

"A lot of times we see more negative posts come up because of the sense of being anonymous," said Julie Hill, an assistant professor of psychology at La Salle University.

She says negative comments can be harmful when directed at someone.
"It was more or less like, 'Why are you doing this, why are you doing that,'" said Steve Dampman, a photographer who said he got a lot of social media backlash for a trip he took this year, but he feels he traveled safely.

"I did my research. It's not like I just got on the plane. Southwest wasn't booking middle seats," he said.

SEE ALSO: Holiday travel breaks record for COVID-19 pandemic; testing sites prep for surge

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The holidays broke records for pandemic travel, and Sunday was the busiest travel day at airports since the COVID-19 restrictions began.

Experts say it's best to talk to people about the pandemic directly and not on social media.

"For the people in your life, talking to them offline is going to be much easier," said Hill.

She explained that it's easy to misinterpret what someone is trying to say over social media. She recommends actually talking to someone instead.
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