I woke up this morning at about 4:30am. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up early, especially this time of year. In Germany, we get a lot of sunlight in the summer– a lot more than we get in the States. The sun rises super early and doesn’t set until about 9:30 or 10:00pm. Consequently, I wake sooner than I should have to, and often end up reading the news, which makes me wake up even more.
Once again, I read more about the insane state of the world. A friend shared a couple more articles about the importance of face mask wearing. I just wrote about that yesterday, and I don’t really want to write about it again today… and yet it’s on my mind and I feel compelled. I think the masks are becoming symbolic of the overall mood we’re all in these days. A lot of people are stressed out, angry, and scared. There’s a lot of yelling and opining going on, but not much listening. People on both sides of the spectrum– whether it’s about politics or public health– are feeling fed up. It feels like the whole western world is throwing a huge temper tantrum.
COVID-19 is the icing on the “shit” cake that is Donald Trump’s presidency. On the liberal side, there are many vocal cheerleaders for mask wearing. They plead, cajole, lecture, virtue signal, and when that doesn’t work, insult the non mask wearers, mostly assumed to be Trump supporters. The non mask wearers, who are often conservatives, respond defiantly and angrily. The volume level grows ever more shrill, even on social media. No one is stopping to take a deep breath and consider the other sides of the issues. Instead, many people devolve into trading personal insults, which after awhile prove challenging for even the most reasonable person to resist. And instead of being convinced to change their minds about the issues, people come away from those interactions even more stubbornly entrenched in their views.
I have not made it a secret that I am not a fan of the face masks. However, I don’t begrudge other people’s views on mask wearing. And I don’t go out in public very often at all, so I am not putting anyone at risk by not wearing a mask. I have literally only been in a public place once since March 14th. For the very brief time I was in public back in April, I did wear a mask. I hated every minute of that experience and decided I’d rather just stay home. So, until today, that’s what I have been doing. Today, I will go out, because tomorrow is my birthday, and Bill wants to take me away for the weekend. However… to be honest, I’m more nervous than excited about it. I kind of don’t want to go.
Staying home hasn’t totally shielded me from the hostility of the world. It’s my own fault for being on social media, and I have been considering getting off of it… I’ve also been thinking about making this blog private, mainly because I’m finding it harder to deal with people anymore. Many, many people, who probably aren’t really as mean they appear to be on Facebook, are coming off as unkind and unreasonable. In the last few weeks, the couple of times I have left comments for friends that weren’t the “popular” viewpoint, I have been attacked by complete strangers who have called me names, made unflattering assumptions about my character, and are not at all interested in having a civilized conversation.
This morning, I found two Facebook posts about face masks shared within the same hour by a friend. One article, inflammatorily titled “A Mask is a Stupid Hill to Die on, America“, pretty much illustrates my theory about why some people are being so stubborn. In that article by John Pavlovitz, I found the following:
First of all, I’m definitely not a narcissist. If I were a narcissist, I’d be out in public, brazenly breaking the rules and defiantly protesting the masks. But, as I wrote above, I’ve been staying home for the past three months and have gotten to the point at which an idea that used to excite me– going somewhere and staying in a hotel– actually has me feeling scared and nervous. Seeing people wearing masks doesn’t make it better. It’s just a visual reminder of what we’ve lost over the past few years.
I’m not even that afraid of getting sick. COVID-19 is pretty well controlled in Germany, and people here are very respectful in terms of doing what is necessary to control the spread of the virus. I just feel very anxious about being out and about… and that makes me feel angry and resentful. I feel like most of the things that I enjoy… things that make life worth living– have been suddenly taken away. I don’t enjoy life that much as it is, so this pandemic makes it worse. And having some blogger who doesn’t even know anything about me assume that I’m a narcissist because I’m not on the mask bandwagon is very offensive to me. I’m not inclined to change my mind after reading his piece. But I don’t think he wrote it for me, anyway. I think it was written for those who are already believers and want to cast shame on those who don’t feel the same way they do. They feel better for reading and sharing it, even if the person who wrote it really didn’t do much to change hearts and minds as much as he vented.
And secondly, I think anyone who reads this blog or follows me on Facebook knows how I feel about Donald Trump. I probably don’t need to write much more about that. I think he’s a vile scumbag who has made this situation so much worse than it really needed to be. I resent him, too.
I was glad, at least, to see that Mr. Pavlovitz added this last bit to his post:
Note: Obviously, people with health conditions and PTSD which make wearing a mask difficult or impossible are exempt from this piece. (The rest of you know who you are.)
Even if you do have a condition that makes wearing a mask difficult or impossible, you’re still going to be confronted, harassed, and expected to explain yourself. Never mind that many people prefer not to tell strangers about their health. I mean, in the USA, doctors aren’t even allowed to discuss their patients’ health conditions with other doctors unless they get permission. But I’m expected to explain– to any stranger who confronts me and demands to know why I’m not wearing a mask– that I have asthma, or another condition that would make the mask difficult to wear. And even then, it’s not likely the other person would believe me anyway.
My Facebook friend shared another article on Market Watch about an hour after she shared John Pavlovitz’s piece. This one, entitled “Why do so many Americans refuse to wear face masks? Politics is part of it — but only part”. Against my better judgment, I read that article, too. I almost left my friend a comment, but then remembered what happened a couple of weeks ago, when I made the mistake of opining about another article she shared in which someone was being called a “Karen”… I think it was one about Amy Cooper. I also have the unpopular opinion that Amy Cooper isn’t necessarily a racist for calling the cops on birder Christian Cooper, nor do I think it’s appropriate to ruin her life over that incident. Two different people, complete strangers to me, automatically jumped down my throat because I didn’t agree with them. Since those arguments took place, I’ve seen even more evidence that Amy Cooper isn’t actually a racist so much as she’s someone with a “high conflict personality”. In other words, she’s probably kind of an asshole to everyone… not just people of color. Or so it appears from that article, anyway.
Since tomorrow is my birthday, I don’t want to get into an argument with anyone today. So I deleted what I wrote on my friend’s second article about face masks. It’s kind of a shame that I felt the need to do that, since I think the purpose of sharing news articles is to generate discussion. My thoughts were formed after reading the comments on the Market Watch’s piece linked above. The comments people left were almost all hostile and disrespectful, on either side of the argument. Again… lots of people feel fine about “loudly” sharing their views, but they aren’t at all interested in considering what the other side thinks. They’ve made up their minds, have collectively folded their arms, toughened their stances, keep parroting the same lines over and over again, and have closed their ears to anything else. So what’s the point of sharing an opinion?
That attitude is what makes people want to rebel. I could easily share some of the comments on the Market Watch piece here, but there are just so many of them, and reading them is depressing. Even the ones I agree with are stated with so much indignation and disrespect that I just don’t even want to go there.
People keep preaching about mask wearing. They have less to say about hand washing, which is even more important when it comes to arresting disease transmission. But it’s easy to see the mask, and so it seems a lot easier to enforce. It makes some people feel better when people wear them. Others, like me, are creeped out by them. We’re told to “get over it and get used to it” because “this is the new normal”. Our concerns are deemed silly or unimportant. I’ve been treated this way my whole life by my loved ones, so now, when I get the same treatment, especially from strangers on the Internet, I feel the need to either rebel or ponder how I can make a quick exit from the world.
Adding to this conflict is the fact that Americans have often been encouraged to think for themselves, do their own research, and not be “sheep”. Coronavirus has only been a worldwide issue for a few months. Even the leaders don’t know what they’re doing. Consider these two conflicting tweets from the U.S. Surgeon General, anesthesiologist Jerome Adams:
Now… this isn’t to say that the masks aren’t useful. But consider that it was only a few months ago that the Surgeon General was imploring people in all caps to “STOP BUYING MASKS”. He’s supposed to know what he’s doing. His advice completely changed in a span of three months. Remember what I wrote about seatbelts. It took YEARS to get the majority of people to wear them consistently. I suspect there will be people who will never be willing to wear the masks, just like some people still don’t buckle up in the car. For some reason, this morning when I was talking to Bill about this, I was reminded of prisoners in chains going out in the “free world” for whatever reason. They’re out in the world– but they’re wearing chains because they must. Maybe that’s why some people feel oppressed by the masks, even though they’re worn for public health reasons. People don’t like to be told they “must” do something, especially when it involves wearing something on their own bodies, even if it’s for their own or the common good. They want to rebel, no matter how many times you explain to them why you’re “right”.
I don’t see this issue as the same as “no shirt, no shoes, no service”, either. The convention to wear shirts and shoes in public has been part of the culture for many years, and besides, going without them would often be physically uncomfortable. Masks are very new, and they are uncomfortable… and they are a constant reminder of how shitty things are right now. I don’t want to wear a mask in exchange for the “privilege” of going out, especially when so many people don’t seem to be folks I’d want to be around, anyway. Seriously… people are pissed off. They are right to be pissed. The world is full of suck right now. But I have enough angst without adding to it by being around people who are angry, hostile, and demanding.
Anyway… I could write more about this topic. In fact, I have another related topic that I wanted to write about today. But our new guitars arrived yesterday, so I think I’m going to stop here and practice. At least I’m using the pandemic to pick up a new skill… and the beauty of that is that at this point, no one wants to hear me play guitar anyway.