Over the past couple of days, I’ve been giving more thought to ditching Facebook. With each passing day, it becomes more and more of an attractive option to me. I think dumping Facebook would spare me a lot of aggravation. On the other hand, I worry that without Facebook, I’ll be bored. I never really got into Twitter, although I do have an account there. I don’t use Instagram at all, and am not wanting to start. But Facebook is becoming more and more of a problem for me, even though I know if I quit using it, there would be a handful of people I would miss. And I mean, out of just over 400 friends, I would probably miss about 25 or 30 of them. The rest, I really could take or leave.
Yesterday, as I carefully hid post after virtue signaling post about the importance of wearing face masks, I was prompted to do a Google search. It was because yet another one of my “friends” posted the “wear a damn mask” meme. I wrote a few days ago that I find that phrase very off putting and rude. I don’t think that’s an expression that true friends would use toward each other. When I see it written, I imagine someone snarling at me. Maybe it’s because I’m an old fart now, but being snarled at isn’t appealing. I mean, I hope at some point, someone besides Bill will show me basic respect… although maybe that’s a lost cause. Figures Generation X would get screwed like that. We were all taught some basic home training, but by the time we got old, that all went out the window.
Anyway, my friend posted “wear a damn mask”, which irritated me, if only because I know she’s bright enough to come up with something of her own that is clever, rather than passing around yet another stale platitude originally stated by a politician. If you search “wear a damn mask”, you will find many results by people who have co-opted that cliche for their own news articles and blog posts, and that annoys me even more. So I headed to Google and typed, “I hate wear a damn mask”. It actually pains me to write that here, since it’s not grammatically correct. But I didn’t want results for “I hate wearing a damn mask”, which is already a given. I wanted to know if other people out in Google land are as annoyed by the phrase “wear a damn mask” as I am.
I didn’t find what I was looking for, although I did stumble across a very clever and entertaining article on a site called Damage. It’s apparently a magazine that seeks and actually pays writers for content. A writer named Amber A’Lee Frost wrote a very witty post called “I’m Not Wearing a Mask”. That’s probably a great title, since it will beg people to click it. A whole lot of people are full of righteous indignation and sanctimony about non-mask wearers. They’re calling them “selfish”, “thoughtless”, “reckless”, “stupid”, and even “murderous“.
Amber A’Lee Frost wrote about checking her email and being relieved to find one from Banana Republic, telling her she is to wear earth tones this summer. It was a shred of normalcy that reminded her that summer would, indeed, happen this year. The world wasn’t and isn’t about to end. Like me, Frost is sick of the fucking ads for “cute masks“, another topic I have bitched about on this blog. And, like me, she is writing about cooperating for the common good, which I have been doing, but not liking. These two paragraphs very nicely nailed how I feel:
I do wear a mask (so congratulations if you made it this far into the essay without calling the cops on me), and I hate it. I’m aware that not liking the masks is neither an original nor productive sentiment, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to admit it either, so it would stand to reason that it is an appropriate and healthy thing to feel and to say. And so…
I hate The Masks. I hate wearing them, I hate seeing other people wearing them, I hate seeing the discarded ones all over the ground. I fucking hate them. I feel like I live in an open-air hospital, or a particularly cosmopolitan leper colony. I miss human faces very badly, and I hate the sensation of being trapped in a breathing swamp of my own self, as each damp exhale rolls back onto my face.
Yes. YES! Especially the part about feeling like living in an “open-air hospital”, although fortunately, so far, people in Germany aren’t quite that gung ho yet. Most people around here only wear the masks indoors or on public transportation.
I enjoyed the rest of Frost’s essay very much. She has a way with words, and some of her comments were very funny to me, while still being oddly poignant. For instance, Frost writes about how children during the World War II era wore gas masks that looked like Mickey Mouse. The beloved mouse styled gas mask was designed by the U.S. Army and was supposed to be comforting to children as they wore the masks to protect themselves from deadly mustard gas. But the “cute” design only served to make the masks look weirdly menacing and dystopian. Like me, Frost finds the current trend of “cute” face masks upsetting, creepy, depressing, and when it comes down to it, repulsive. She writes, “the new market of boutique facemasks repulses me far more than any makeshift from a bandana or scarf, or the cold medicality of the N95 respirator. But make no mistake; they all suck.” I completely agree!
I showed the article to Bill, who also found it a good read. So I shared it on Facebook, and got some good comments. One friend even recognized the post as a great perspective on this whole pandemic thing, particularly involving people who are reacting in an extreme way. I completely understand how serious the pandemic is. I’ve been saying so from the get go. But that doesn’t mean I am willing to wear a face mask 24/7 for the rest of my life. I expect these measures to be temporary, just as they have been in the past when there’s been a war involving poisonous gases as weapons or a pandemic going on. In those days, we didn’t have social media, though, so we weren’t all subjected to everyone else’s views on how people should be coping or reacting to this current reality.
A friend didn’t like Amber A’Lee Frost’s post. She wrote that it was just as annoying as all the preachy virtue signaling posts by the pro mask brigade, and it’s just another form of virtue signaling. I advised her not to read articles she doesn’t like. She then implied that the fact that she’d read the post was my fault, since I had enjoyed it and was enlightened by it. In other words, she thought she’d like it, since I had. And, I guess, since she didn’t like it, I somehow “let her down”.
To be honest, I was kind of non-plussed by this response. I have over 400 Facebook friends. I should probably have far fewer, but that’s beside the point. How can I possibly be expected to know what will or won’t please or enlighten my friends? I didn’t realize it was my duty to entertain them on my Facebook page. I liked Amber A’Lee Frost’s essay, and I think that should be good enough, at least when it comes to deciding what to share on MY page. I can’t please everybody, nor can I know what will appeal to everybody. It’s not like she didn’t know by the title of the piece– “I’m Not Wearing a Mask”– that the post was going to be about face masks. Moreover, most blogs are full of virtue signaling. God knows, mine is!
Amber A’Lee Frost’s post is the first and only one I’ve seen so far that accurately addresses how I’ve been feeling. I’ve been struggling to convey the same thoughts in my blog that she did so well in her essay. I’ve not been as successful. I was delighted to read how she’d put the experience of living in this new reality. It was funny, witty, and easy to read, but it was also startlingly accurate to me. We know that the masks are necessary for now, but we don’t have to like it. And saying out loud or posting that we don’t like it and don’t want it to go on forever doesn’t make us bad or irresponsible people.
Just as I was recovering from that altercation, I ran across a news article about Joe Biden and his thoughts on mask wearing. The CBS News headline states, “Biden says he’d use executive powers to force Americans to wear masks in public”. That headline makes me worry. We don’t need a politician acting like Trump, only from the other side of the political spectrum. Trump has been using a lot of forceful, obnoxious, rights ignoring language. I don’t want to see or hear that from Joe Biden. I want him to be sensible and a good role model. I want him to consider all viewpoints and do what is best for the country in a moderate way. I am not looking for Trump behavior, only with a liberal bent. The word “force” is not a good one to use in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. America is supposed to be about freedom. There is nothing “free” about the word “force”, and it won’t win over reluctant Trump supporters who don’t like the orange menace, but like “leftism” even less.
In the course of our discussion about that thread, someone brought up seatbelts and how long it took to convince people to wear them. And yes, I DO remember quite well. In fact, I always hated seatbelts when I was a kid. I didn’t consistently have to wear them, which was probably one of the problems. The other problem was that they were uncomfortable, confining, and restrictive, and, in fact, weren’t really that safe. Seatbelts in the 1970s were not at all like seatbelts of 2020. Today’s seatbelts are a lot more functional and comfortable, even with the added shoulder belt in the back seat that we didn’t have in the 1980s.
But– I still don’t see wearing a mask as the same as wearing a seatbelt. It’s always been unsafe to ride in a car unrestrained. That was true even before seatbelts were invented. Face masks, on the other hand, are a very new thing for the vast majority of people and, until very recently, it was not considered unsafe to walk around in public without one. For most people with normal immune systems, it truly wasn’t unsafe.
It takes time and evidence for people to change their opinions and habits. Trying to force people to change, berating and insulting them, and not using common sense is not the best way to change hearts and minds about an issue. All you have to do to know this is look at some of the failed public health campaigns of the past… and present, really.
Like, is anyone really convinced that only providing sexual abstinence education to teenagers helps fix our nation’s issues with teen pregnancy? Look at where the teen pregnancy problems are the worst and you’ll easily find the answer to that question. Ditto for promoting condom use to prevent HIV infection. In the 1980s, public health experts were threatened with a withdrawal of federal funding if they made any health promotion materials that implied that homosexual behavior is acceptable. It also ignored the fact that condoms blocked what most gay men enjoy most about sex– physical contact and sensations. Consequently, a lot of homosexuals ignored advice to use condoms to protect themselves against the virus that causes AIDS. A lot of time and money was wasted, and the pandemic continued until scientists finally started finding ways to effectively treat the virus and condom manufacturers started making products that addressed what their customers were looking for in a sexual experience.
Someone decided to take me to task on that issue, too. I was bombarded with links to articles about the coronavirus in such a way that I couldn’t possibly read or respond to every link in a timely manner. Frankly, I found that approach insulting because I can Google with the best of ’em. The person told me they once were paid to do online research. Well, guess what? So was I! And I actually earned an advanced degree in public health and worked in epidemiology, so I’m not exactly a slouch myself when it comes to research, particularly in the field of public health and healthcare policy, another area in which I used to work. But really, I didn’t want to talk about research. I wanted to talk about common sense.
What has me especially concerned is that a whole lot of people– a lot of them people lucky enough to be on or beyond the edge of elderly, who have been fortunate enough to enjoy long, productive lives of relative normalcy– are pleading with young people to give up the prospect of living a “normal” life themselves. They are acting as if we should all simply accept that the virus is here to stay and we should grin and bear the prospect that we’ll be uncomfortable and inconvenienced by it for the rest of our lives. Some of them sound like this is how they think it’s going to be from now on, and the rest of us should simply relax and be okay with it.
Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that I’m NOT okay with it. I do not want to wear a mask from now on. I will wear one for now, out of respect for the common good, but I expect the masks to be a TEMPORARY measure. I am not willing to give up seeing people smile, hugging and kissing, eating good food and drinking fine wines in restaurants, listening to people play saxophone on street corners or hearing choirs sing in churches, feeling cool breezes on my face, wearing pretty lipstick, or hearing people speak unmuffled in public. I am not going to just sit still and accept that as my future without complaint.
Feeling this way doesn’t make me crazy or irresponsible or in need of a lecture. It’s COMMON SENSE. I hope and expect that scientists will find a way to arrest or treat this virus, the same way science has handled prior pandemics. So yes, I will cooperate with the mask requirements for now, although I’d rather simply stay home, and I suspect that pretty soon, that will be an issue because it will affect the economy. But I absolutely expect that I won’t be putting up with this shit for the rest of my life. I would hope other people feel the same way. And I would also hope that before they go off on someone for complaining about the masks and rightfully saying that wearing them sucks, people would use common sense.
Wearing a face mask sucks. I doubt that many people really enjoy it. Admitting that it sucks isn’t a bad thing. It serves as motivation to make disease prevention more practical and comfortable for everyone. People who say the masks suck and admit to hating wearing them aren’t necessarily in need or a lecture or an intervention. They aren’t even necessarily non-compliant. And I’m getting tired of thinking this and posting it only in my blog as I quietly hide, ignore, or scroll past posts and stale memes about the importance of face masks because I don’t want to be harassed by my so-called “friends” who apparently think I’m stupid and need a clue.
I get it. Many people think face masks are important and should be mandatory. Most of your friends either get it, or won’t be convinced. Hitting us over the head repeatedly with the same message isn’t going to do much more than piss us off… and, in my case, make me think about ditching Facebook altogether– although I mostly think I might do it because I’m pissed off about being falsely accused of posting “hate speech” on Facebook and not being able to complain about it to a real person. That is lame as hell, and it tells me that Mark Zuckerberg and his ilk have way too much power in my life.