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Editorial: Partygoers sought attention – that’s what they got

EDITORIAL

A group of people who are accused of breaching Covid-19 restrictions to gather at a North Shore house last weekend have been variously described.

Some have called one of the alleged organisers an “influencer”, in marketing terms, a person who sways potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending them on social media.

Others have been described as “models”, having been signed to some contractual arrangements with agencies, although these businesses have sought to distance themselves from those believed to have been at the “packed” event.

Given, however, the behaviours seen on the video footage disseminated during and after the event, it would appear these people might best be described as “attention-seekers”.

On the same day the majority of New Zealand joined the effort to vaccinate their way out of a pandemic, it appears a cluster of people sought another, hedonistic course. The outrage from those who have done the right thing is understandable but, it should be said, personal threats or abuse are never acceptable.

One attendee says he’s been inundated with hate messages – but he says he understands why and has contacted police to let them know what he has done.

Jaydn McCarthy was one of about 50 people who were at the Redvale house on Saturday night, an event angering neighbours who had to deal with the noise and many in the wider community who have been following lockdown rules.

“I knew what I was doing was breaching the law of the Covid restrictions, which is something that I’m not proud of,” the 23-year-old told the Herald.

“All I can really do is say how sorry I am and sincerely apologise to all the communities, the households for being at that party. I know my actions were irresponsible and placed a lot of people at risk.”

McCarthy has been judged by many in the court of public opinion and been found wanting. “Every time I refresh there’s a whole new line of messages,” he said. “It does make me regret what I’ve done and really think about it…”

Some might point out these people are not the first to have defied public health orders. Many of us will have heard or even seen illicit gatherings taking place. There are many well-reported instances of people faking information to move through border restrictions.

The contrition from those at the North Shore party is welcome but any grievance at being criticised rings a little hollow. University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Rindelaub says the house party had “all the makings of a super-spreader event”.

By their wilful attendance and then boasting about it with video footage on open and public social media accounts, these people actively sought the attention they craved. And they got it. There can be a sting to promoting oneself in these fraught times.

If any of these partygoers are “influencers”, it’s to be hoped their experience will sway their target audience not to be so self-centred and to avoid becoming so deplored by a nation. And that “model” behaviour doesn’t look like this.

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