Well, what tipped me off is that people weren't dropping dead in the streets, which is what I would have expected based on the level of hysteria in the news from early on. I would have thought that others would notice the disconnect between their own experience and what was being reported, or at least the way it was being reported. There are lots of people like me who don't know anyone who has died from or even been severely affected by COVID. Obviously there are lots of people on the other side of that, too, but just based on statistics, I'm guessing there are (numerically) more people who have not personally been affected, even at second or third hand. But you're right, what's happened instead of people waking up is that they are constructing their whole perception of reality based on news reports rather than the evidence of their own eyes. It is indeed disheartening to see so many intelligent people who are unable or unwilling to apply their critical thinking skills to what's going on around them.It is shocking to me that the past year and a half hasn't taught people not to take newspaper articles at face value.
Why would it? They always took them at face value before -- during a pandemic is even more of a reason to keep your face buried in the news, apparently. Been watching family and friends fall deeper down the hole of fear than ever, and it's truly disheartening to see so many have so little critical thinking skills.
This quote from 1984 has been perpetually on my mind:
"The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”