complaints, rants, social media

Sanctimonious preachers on social media…

It’s Monday, so I figure it’s time for a rant. I’ve ranted about this topic before. I’m going to rant about it again. Brace yourselves, or move on to your next Internet station.

Last night, an acquaintance of mine through social media and a now defunct messageboard, shared a whole shitload of “memes” and photos with quotes on them. Everything she shared was basically a lecture to the masses, imploring them to straighten up and live the way she thinks is right. I finally had to hide her posts because, while I was fine with one or two of them, I didn’t need to see two dozen. I just went and counted, and she literally posted 24 of these fucking social media social justice warrior posts.

I didn’t need to see that. Especially since she wasn’t the only one “preaching” by using other people’s photos and viral posts. It’s bad enough when one person does it. It gets super annoying when several people do it.

Today, as I write this, another social media acquaintance– this one a relative I’ve never met in person– is sharing for the masses. This is what she just posted…

Are people’s minds ever changed by these kinds of posts, even if they are based in truth?

I don’t even disagree with the above sentiment. I do think, for many people, what is written above is true. I don’t think it’s true for everyone. I mean, there are bound to be people on the Internet who really have done a lot of reading and researching of scientific journals. For some people, it’s their job to do that. There was a time when it was my job to read epidemiological studies and papers and translate them into layman’s language. But regardless, I don’t think the attitude in this post, while understandable, is particularly helpful or effective. I also don’t think it’s pleasant to read something like this. I wouldn’t like it from someone I know personally, and love. I especially don’t like it from someone I’ve never met in person. No one likes being cussed at and insulted. It’s not a good way to convince people.

Below are just a sampling of what I saw on my feed yesterday. I don’t necessarily disagree with the messages, but I don’t like the tone of them. They’re bristly and rude, and they don’t change anyone’s opinions. They just piss people off and divide us all.

I am all for cooperating with others. I’m a big fan of empathy. I just don’t think these kinds of messages, particularly spread among “friends”, are useful. At best, they mainly rally the like-minded. Anyone you’d actually want to change their views and their practices won’t be swayed by memes, especially when they are offensively stated.

I mainly ignore the people who share this stuff. I tend to unfollow the worst offenders. If they really get obnoxious, I unfriend… but I tend to put up with a lot of sanctimony before I go that route. Most people probably mean well. I just don’t think a lot of them spend much time thinking before they share. Or maybe our society has simply become so crusty and calloused that we don’t care how other people might take these “viral” truisms. I, for one, am a lot more convinced by people who use their own words, rather than stale memes and “quotes” from others… especially since so many quotes aren’t even correctly attributed or presented in context.

What if I don’t wanna?

Every once in awhile, I share something written by someone else. But most of the time, they are funny observations. Like, for instance, I shared this last night…

This is the kind of stuff I like to see. Give me something that will make me laugh.

I don’t need someone passing along a stale meme to tell me how to behave or what to believe. If my mom couldn’t get me to behave properly, you won’t be able to, either. And most of us don’t want or need someone telling us how to act. I would certainly love it if people would stop championing right wing nutjobs. But I’m not going to tell another adult what to do, especially with someone else’s lame ass social media post. If I feel the need to do that, and care enough to want to risk the fallout, I will do it using my own words. Besides, I thought Facebook was supposed to be a fun place for friends to meet and reminisce. At what point did it become a place for soapbox activism? Especially when the activism is hostile and rude?

Yeah… this one I can agree with wholeheartedly.

When it comes to preaching, I’m with George Carlin. I think social media activism and virtue signaling is a lot like the whole “Baby on Board” phenomenon. Check it out, cuz George was onto something.

Don’t tell me your troubles, lady.

Well… that about does it for today’s post. We are going to be traveling to Austria tomorrow, so I may or may not have a chance to write. It depends on what time we get on the road. After two nights in Austria, we will move on to Croatia, then Slovenia, then back to Austria and home. I hope it all goes off without a hitch. I have missed traveling so much, and I’m ready to plan our next trip. For now, I have to get some chores done. Bill is taking his very first class through the Jung Institute in Switzerland. It’s an online seminar. I have a feeling he’s going to love these studies. Maybe he’ll even become a qualified shrink someday. Meanwhile, I’ll keep practicing my guitar.

complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

Virtue signaling is at an all time high…

You know this term, virtue signaling? Apparently, it’s been around for a few years, but I just learned about it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen it in action for ages, though, and it’s a highly irritating practice. Virtue signaling is basically when a person says or does something that is basically meaningless in an attempt to look noble. An example I can think of is when people change their profile pictures on Facebook to show solidarity for something. They’re showing “support”, but if they don’t do something more significant, that action doesn’t lead to anything but the appearance of “good”.

People usually “virtue signal” for vain purposes. They want to look good, but they don’t necessarily want to do any work. So, say there’s been a mass shooting in Italy– just making this up– and a bunch of people change their Facebook photos to match the Italian flag. They don’t do anything else, other than change their Facebook photos or post a few memes. That doesn’t actually help anyone in Italy. It just makes the people who change their profile pics appear to be more sensitive to the suffering of people affected in Italy.

Or… say you know someone isn’t much of an animal lover, but all of a sudden, they start posting on social media about the plight of animals in shelters. It’s kinda bullshit, but the person looks like a more moral person for doing it, even if the truth is, he or she couldn’t care less about animals. There’s been no effort expended to make the animals suffer less. No money was donated. No time was given or supplies purchased. Basically, the posts do very little but make the person who shared them appear to be a more decent person.

I think that’s kind of what’s been happening during the coronavirus crisis. Lots of bored people have started jumping up on soapboxes that didn’t exist three months ago. Now, they are preaching about maintaining the guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing when, three months ago, this issue wasn’t even on their radar. Of course, it wasn’t on most people’s radars three months ago. We heard about people trapped on cruise ships and lots of people dying in China, Italy, and Iran. Now, everyone is an expert on the virus and what we should all be doing.

Yesterday, after seeing the same fucking meme shared for the hundredth time about why mask wearing is important, I decided to post something obnoxious. I knew it would get responses from people thinking I was referring to their posting habits. Actually, the “guilty” didn’t seem to notice this comment from me:

LOL… I have started hiding the “wear a mask” preaching posts. Enough is enough. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, they never will.

Seems to me that this is pretty simple. The point I was trying to make is that people have made up their minds. Sharing this meme or similar ones…

This is a RIDICULOUS example, made even worse by the obvious typo. Who goes around peeing on people? And if you’re a woman, no matter what you do, you’ll be peeing on yourself. As an explanation about the spread of coronavirus and wearing masks, I don’t think this works.

is not going to change anyone’s mind about the efficacy of masks. We’ve all seen this one and the blue death screen version of this same sentiment over and over again. Sharing it again doesn’t make you look smarter or wiser than anyone else. It makes you look like an asshole. Sorry… I know that comment won’t sit well with a lot of people, but that’s how I feel. It’s sarcastic, insulting, and completely discounts the legitimate reasons some people have for not “getting with the program”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the self-righteous among us. And sharing a meme about urinating in public while naked to illustrate the importance of masks is just silly. At least share one that doesn’t have a typo in the heading.

Just as annoying, though, are the pleading memes like this one…

I’ve seen this one so many times. Do people really need to read this “explanation” over and over again?

I suspect some people continually do this because they enjoy getting feedback from the like-minded. They rack up a bunch of “likes” and “loves” and atta-girls or atta-boys, since the people who are irritated by them don’t typically say anything. Sharing something like this makes you appear to be a good citizen. But I think you’re a better citizen when you simply do your part to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic without the public displays of virtue signaling on social media. Most of us have read up on the masks and social distancing rules. Those who are believers in it already know all this stuff. Those who have made up their minds to rebel are not going to be convinced by your meme. The rest of us, who would like to just wait this shit out without becoming deathly ill, are getting fatigued.

Does sharing memes like this one over and over again change the minds of people who think wearing a facemask is “living in fear”? Probably not. But you might get a lot of likes and loves from the people who think it’s a good point.

My post got some comments from people. I had to reassure a couple of them that I wasn’t talking about them sharing news articles and expressing outrage over the way some people in the United States are behaving. I don’t condone the idiots who are protesting en masse in state capitals, threatening government officials, toting their guns, and being thugs. To be clear, I do respect the rules. I have left my house/neighborhood twice since March. The one time I went into a store, I did wash my hands and wear a mask. I got in and out of there as quickly as I could. The other time I went out, I stayed in the car. I even stayed strapped in, because I didn’t want Bill to turn into Pat Boone.

At one point, though, I brought up car seat, anti-circumcision (skintactivists), and breastfeeding “Nazis”. Before the face mask controversy, I’d most often see the virtual signaling behavior whenever someone shared a picture of a child in a car seat. It never fails. Post a picture of your kid in a car seat and you damned well better be sure that kid is strapped in perfectly correctly. Otherwise, you’ll get an online lecture from some self-appointed car seat twit who wants to critique your buckling technique. Same thing with breastfeeding and circumcisions. You get yammering from someone wanting to educate you about why “breast is best”, or why you shouldn’t get your infant son’s foreskin removed. Sometimes, people have good reasons for the decisions they make for themselves or their families. Sometimes their reasons aren’t any of your business. Most people are trying to do the best they can and probably ought to get the benefit of the doubt. But try to tell that to the zealots and they won’t hear you any better than the rebels do.

So anyway, we were having a good discussion about this issue, when I got a comment from a car seat specialist who defended her “right” to share car seat memes “any darned time” she wants. Well, first of all, I never said you couldn’t share your memes. It’s YOUR page. You can share whatever you want to on your page. What I said was, I am HIDING the shaming memes because I’m tired of looking at them, and I find them annoying, insulting, and depressing. And secondly, if you legitimately know what you’re talking about on a subject, then share away! I don’t have an issue with people who have valuable things to share that are genuinely educational and beneficial. And I wasn’t specifically talking to or about you and your social media habits. My issue is with people who went to the Facebook School of Medicine and want to educate and enlighten the rest of us with their brilliant insights they learned on social media. And they share the same fucking things over and over again. At what point have you preached enough? Does that happen when every single person is bowing to peer pressure? Or does it happen when the next big controversy arises?

I must admit, sometimes this is how I feel when I read yet another social media based lecture, especially when it’s in a meme.

I just read a really good article about how to talk to people who don’t wear face coverings. I think it’s very good, of course, mainly because I agreed with what was stated. Shaming and scolding are never good behaviors among adults. It doesn’t get people on your side; it pisses them off. Sometimes, it even leads to violence. I noticed an exchange on a friend’s page the other day. One of her friends wrote that she’d threatened to “throat punch” someone who wasn’t wearing a mask in the checkout line at the grocery store. Another friend took issue with the threat of violence over the mask wearing. The first friend– the would-be throat puncher– then shared that snarky “peeing” meme with the typo to explain why masks are important. Then she told the other woman to “educate” herself. Asshole behavior, if you ask me– and I was glad to see that the other woman didn’t take it lying down. There’s no excuse for threatening violence, especially at a time like this. It doesn’t make you look like a “badass”. It makes you look stupid. Maybe the woman had a reason for not wearing the mask, or maybe she was just being inconsiderate. Either way, there was absolutely no need to threaten her with violence.

I think we’re all under a lot of stress. I think it’s best to be kind and try to be understanding as much as possible. As for me… I’m not sure when I’ll be leaving the house again. I don’t like the masks, but I like shitty confrontational behavior from other people even less. But I’m going to try not to preach about this on Facebook. That’s why I write a blog. 😉


condescending twatbags, rants

Pandemic shaming… it’s gotten out of hand.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of people lecturing others about what they should or should not be doing. I suppose it’s only natural, since so many of us are at home, bored out of our skulls. Yesterday, I noticed several of my friends posting yet more pleas to others to make sure they follow all the pandemic rules. I get why some of them are doing it. COVID-19 is very scary. People are getting very sick and sometimes dying, and being stuck at home SUCKS. We all want life to get back to normal, and posting a clever pandemic themed meme or a heartfelt Facebook post makes it feel like we’re doing something constructive.

However, when every other friend is posting about the importance of social distancing and wearing face masks, social media quickly becomes a source of frustration and irritation. Frankly, a lot of the information being shared by well-meaning people isn’t entirely accurate. I’ve started to hide posts and unfollow the worst offenders, because mainly, I don’t need the extra stress or aggravation. I am capable of reading up on what the experts say I should be doing. So are you. It’s gotten to the point at which I’m starting to view pandemic shamers as being akin to Trump supporters.

Last night, I found an interesting op-ed on The New York Times entitled “The Seductive Appeal of Pandemic Shaming”. I mostly agreed with what the author, Jennifer Weiner, wrote. The only thing I didn’t like was that she decided to use the trendy pejorative “Karen” to describe angsty, middle-aged, white women who seem to be the worst “pandemic shaming” offenders right now. As regular readers might remember, I kind of hate the recent trend of co-opting perfectly good names like Karen, Becky, Chad, and Susan to put other people down. However, overall, I liked Weiner’s message to the masses. She writes:

...posting pictures of non-compliers on social media, or calling them out to their faces, is unlikely to help. It might even make things worse. And it comes with risks to groups who are already suffering more than most from the virus and its effects.

She continues with a quote from Damon Young, author of “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker,” who has seen a lot of people calling other people out for not following the rules.

I understand the compulsion” to call people out, Young said. “But is it really helping? If what you’re doing is supposed to be about saving lives, is this actually doing it?”

Frankly, I don’t think it does help very much. What it mostly seems to do is piss people off and make the situation worse. I was reading the Duggar Family News group this morning and someone posted about how Jill Duggar Dillard posted on Instagram about how she and her husband, Derick, went to visit Derick’s family. As Duggar followers know, Jill and Derick, like most of the rest of the Duggar family, live in Arkansas. According to group members in the know, Arkansas has not enacted a “stay at home” order, nor is wearing face masks in public currently a requirement there.

Jill and Derick went to see his mother and stepfather and did not wear masks or practice “social distancing”. Derick’s mother, Cathy, has some significant health issues, which were documented on the Duggar family’s reality shows before Jill and Derick fell out with The Learning Channel and Jim Bob Duggar. Lots of posters were going off about how *wrong* and irresponsible it is that Jill and Derick didn’t wear masks and gloves… or that they visited his family in the first place. As I read shaming response after more outraged and shaming response, I was suddenly reminded of an angry hive… a somewhat timely image, as I read about the murderous hornets that are now in the news. And then I took note of this exchange:

Notice the overall tone of these posts. It’s kind of aggressive. The hand-wringing face mask crusaders are doing their best to shame the holdout into seeing their view. But are they changing her mind? Not really. As you can see, she gets more and more hostile. I doubt she’ll be donning a face mask due to these people– perfect strangers who don’t know or care about her– piling on her on social media. And I’ll bet there were a lot of people reading who silently agreed with the original poster. Most adults like to think of themselves as able to take care of themselves without “special help”, especially in the United States– “land of the free”.

After I read this post, I thought of another quote from Weiner’s op-ed, which came from Syon Bhanot, a behavioral economist who teaches at Swarthmore. Does calling people out online for their “misbehavior” actually make the situation better? Does it save lives? Bhanot says that when you point out misbehavior online,

“you’re not confronting it — you’re virtue-signaling.” And confronting wrongdoers in person “is not going to be motivationally effective,” he added. “Shaming creates defensiveness. It doesn’t persuade, it entrenches.”

Makes perfect sense to me, especially when you look at the exchange I read in the Duggar Family News group. Neither side was backing down. The conflict was getting worse. The mood was getting uglier. And I wondered if that made things better in the already difficult situation we’re all having to weather right now. Bhanot says that instead of personally calling out “wrongdoers”, it’s better to appeal to the authorities and ask them to handle it on an organizational level. I would also add that sometimes there’s something going on that you don’t know about and is none of your business. One astute German in a local Facebook group posted that someone you see in public who is not wearing a mask might have a medical problem that makes mask wearing difficult or impossible. I think it’s better to just give those people a wide berth rather than berating them.

I was still thinking about the subject of pandemic shaming last night, so I did more Googling and found an article on The Guardian by Poppy Noor about shaming that is going on in the United Kingdom. Noor writes that a few weeks ago, journalist Amelia Gentleman tweeted a photo of an apartment building where someone had posted huge posters shaming a neighbor for not socially distancing. The disgruntled neighbor was perturbed because “Ann” had been having people over and when she was asked to stop having company, refused to comply. So Ann’s neighbor decided to publicly shame her with the posters… which anyone passing could see, but as you can now see, has been picked up by the news.

Noor writes that most social distance and face mask shamers are simply trying to do the right thing. They see someone out and about with no mask on and feel the need to call them out, reminding them that they could be spreading the virus. But what if that person is a nurse or a grocery store clerk on the way to work? What if it’s someone making sure an elderly family member is getting food or medication? What if the person not wearing the mask has severe lung disease or anxiety and can’t wear the mask without panicking? And why is it any of your fucking business? Especially since, if you’re seeing these folks out and about, you’re probably out and about yourself. No one needs to be reminded about the coronavirus right now, anyway. I was actually kind of happy to read about the killer hornets yesterday, because it was a diversion from the 24-7 chatter about the virus… and Donald Trump’s moronic handling of the situation.

Personally, I haven’t had much of a problem staying holed up in the house. I seem to have a low need for socializing with people other than Bill and our dog, Arran. Not everyone is like me, though, and some people are starting to go a little crazy, especially as the weather improves. Some people want to go sit on the beach or play basketball because it’s good for their mental health. Mental health is also important. Without it, people become hopeless and despondent. They start drinking too much booze and entertaining thoughts of suicide. So I’m inclined to give people a break… and a wide berth when I see them outside with or without a mask. As Noor points out,

Take the case of a friend’s mother, who was recently reported to the police for making too many trips outside. She, in fact, was dropping off supplies to people who were sick and in isolation. Now she might feel less inclined to do so – but who cares, so long as whoever dobbed her in gets to post on social media about it?

Too much of that kind of thing will also cause people to be paranoid. I read another account of a couple in Australia who were fined because they were reported for posting pictures of themselves doing “non-essential” travel. But then it turned out that the photos were taken months before the coronavirus struck. From the article:

The husband and wife were fined the equivalent of $1,000 each by state police for “going for a drive to Lakes Entrance,” which was deemed a violation of the country’s strict lockdown.

The couple was warned that if they “posted any more photos,” they would “be arrested,”

The cops revoked the fine once it became clear that the pictures were a year old, although the wife had to contact the media to get the police to drop the citation. But that led people to wonder if the police were Facebook stalking the populace, looking for people to nab. Who turned them in to the authorities, anyway? That is a rather uncomfortable thing, isn’t it? Might make one not want to do much posting on social media or sharing of photos if it means the cops will show up on your doorstep with a citation, especially when they don’t have all the facts. It’s creepy as hell, too.

The police should have more important things to do than investigate this kind of thing. It’s a pretty shitty thing to do to someone during these stressful times, particularly if you don’t have all the facts. If someone is genuinely breaking the rules and actually causing trouble for you, that’s one thing– it’s appropriate to call the police in that case. But snitching on people who aren’t personally affecting you or calling them out based on erroneous assumptions is ugly behavior that causes more problems than it solves.

I did have one friend who wrote that she was upset about some things she’d been seeing. Even here in Germany, some folks are protesting. They aren’t bringing massive weapons like they do in the United States, but they are coming out en masse to complain about the measures enacted to slow the spread of the virus. Also, some people are defiantly throwing parties. I don’t have a problem with calling the authorities when something like that is happening that affects someone personally. But the group shaming, online nannying and nagging, and bold confrontations of strangers is counterproductive. Most people don’t react well when they’re shamed and policed by ordinary citizens, especially when the shamers are total strangers on the Internet. All it does is make them defensive and defiant.

So, at the risk of sounding preachy myself, knock it off, please. Live your life and do your part to stay healthy. Hopefully, your neighbors and the strangers on the Internet will do the same.

Memes, social media

Social Media Evangelists…

I’m in a writing mood today. I have a couple of topics in mind, neither of which are particularly fun subjects. Nevertheless, both are on my mind, and since I don’t have a shrink anymore, I’m going to spill my guts. So here goes…

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of “preachers” on social media. Some people can’t help themselves. They like to get up on their soap boxes and spread their messages. Sometimes the messages are useful, reasonable, and sensible. Sometimes, they’re the same thing over and over again, which is irritating, even if the message makes sense. Many times, the messages are sanctimonious in nature, and more likely to piss people off than get them to change their behaviors.

I realize that in writing a blog, often with subjects about my own pet peeves, I kind of do the same thing. I mostly try to limit my preaching to the blog. That way, people can choose whether or not they want to read it. I think this technique also works better for me because a lot of times, what I want to communicate won’t fit on a pithy meme. Most of the time, people who take the time to read a blog post are already in agreement with me, but sometimes they’re not. That’s okay, of course, as long as the discussion is respectful. Most of the time, at least on my blog, it is. On Facebook, however, the comments can get pretty shitty in a hurry.

I remember before Facebook became a part of my life, way back in August 2008, I wasn’t constantly bombarded by preachy messages from my friends. Somehow, I was blissfully unaware of how much other people were watching everything their neighbors do and coming up with cute memes with which to shame and criticize them. Every day, there’s something out there from someone– a mini lecture on how we should all be living our lives boiled down to the fun “meme-size” that doesn’t quite encompass all of the facts of a situation.

Until COVID-19 struck, the most common “social media evangelism” was often about children. I’d see posts about pregnant women who drink booze and how absolutely wrong that is under all circumstances. Or– guaranteed– if someone posted a picture of a child in a car, there would be at least half a dozen critiques on if or how the child was strapped into a carseat. It seems like everyone is an expert on every subject, and everyone feels entitled to share their opinions as if they were facts or judge other people for their personal choices, even though they rarely have the whole story.

This has been floating around Facebook recently. I cringe every time I see it. Snopes agrees with me, too. It sounds good and seems reasonable, but the truth is, the efficacy of face masks against the spread of COVID-19 is currently unknown. A lot probably has to do with the quality of the masks being worn, the behavior and hygiene of the wearer and the other person, and plain old luck.

Right now, the hottest subject for social media preaching is the wearing of face masks. Face mask donning is currently a controversial subject. Over the past few weeks, the official advice has rapidly gone from not wearing them unless you’re sick or working with sick people, to maybe wearing them, to everybody MUST wear them (although there are some exceptions and a lot depends on the country). I have been watching this progression with interest, especially since public health is a pet subject of mine. I spent a couple of years studying it in graduate school and used to work as a technical writer in the field of epidemiology.

As of Monday of this week, face masks became mandatory in Germany if you’re in an area where “social distancing” isn’t possible. The rules and consequences of not obeying the new face mask rules vary depending on the state. At this point, Bavaria, which has been hardest hit by the virus, is the strictest about the face masks. Berlin’s rules are comparatively lax in comparison.

I’m just gonna say it. I find the prospect of being forced to wear a face mask depressing and oppressive. They kind of remind me of gags. I know they’re not gags, but they look like them, and I hate the idea that people will be expected to wear them from now on– for an indefinite length of time. The masks obscure people’s faces and make communication more challenging and, for some reason, that makes me feel anxious and depressed. They’re hot, uncomfortable, inconvenient, and make breathing more difficult, although I’ll admit that breathing is surely easier when wearing a mask than when one is sick with COVID-19. It bugs me that face masks have now become a “fashion accessory”, especially when a lot of them are just that, and offer little in the way of real protection from germs.

Look at this flimsy piece of shit. I assume it would be acceptable to shop in this, but the idea of going through the summer wearing this on my face when it’s 90 degrees out isn’t very pleasant.

I hate the idea of having to sit on a long haul flight while wearing a face mask, especially when I know that airplanes are filthy and have been for years. Flights are already uncomfortable and unpleasant enough without adding face masks and flight attendants in PPE suits to the mix. It’s also pretty much impossible to do things like eat or drink while wearing a mask. Since those are things I like to do when I’m in public and with other people, that pretty much means I’m going to just stay home, and that is a depressing prospect for me.

No matter how many times my well meaning friends share pictures and diagrams of how the viruses might be stopped by masks, I know that viruses are unbelievably tiny and can stay airborne for at least a couple of hours. And if you have fogged up glasses and the sides of your mask are gaping, that means that something is getting out from behind it– something tiny and airborne. The masks will probably stop large balls of spittle and mucus that have viruses attached to them, but they certainly don’t stop everything. Given that so many of the masks are homemade, there’s a wide variety of materials being used to make them by people of varying skill, and they are of varying efficacy in stopping the spread of germs. Maybe the masks are better than nothing; but then again, maybe they’re not. Especially if people aren’t laundering them properly or trying to avoid touching them while they’re wearing them.

I have a friend who crocheted her mask, which left the face covering with sizable holes in it. When one of her other friends asked her if she planned to put a lining in the mask, she said her intention was simply to comply with the law of wearing a face covering in public. This friend is a scientist and, like me, has her doubts that the masks are much more than a measure to comfort the masses and make it look like something is being done to stop the spread of the disease. I saw her get into an argument with a face mask “Nazi”, who was adamant that the coverings were/are absolutely essential in all cases and must be mandatory (for how long?). It reminded me a lot of the arguments I’ve seen among “friends” on Facebook, lecturing others about whether or not someone else’s child should be wearing a jacket outside, or whether or not someone was disabled enough to use a handicapped parking space, even if the person had a legitimate placard and a hidden medical condition that was no one else’s business.

I have noticed that some people feel quite fine in lecturing the masses about wearing face masks, the same way they might lecture a mother about how to strap her child into a carseat or whether or not she should allow her child to be alone outside. I’ve also noticed that when a person does experience a negative consequence for not following the popular advice, people are quick to cheer about their misfortune. Someone posts about coronavirus being overblown and then gets sick? Cue the cheerleaders who crow about karma and laugh with glee. Someone lets their child play in the yard and the child is kidnapped? There will always be a contingent of people who think the parents deserved to have their child abducted. They lose sight of the real culprit of suffering and blame the victim.

Many of the people sharing their opinions have only been informed by the media and memes that are being spread on social media. They haven’t taken the time to read up on the subject in legitimate scientific publications or read opposing viewpoints among people whose business it is to deal with communicable diseases, nor do they even know all there is to know about the other person’s unique situation. They assume the person is just ignorant or being stubborn, and sharing one more pissy or directive face mask meme or “efficacy chart” is going to change their minds and/or behaviors. Or worse, they take the attitude that the face mask is the silver bullet and don’t try to stay home or do a better job of washing their hands.

Some folks are also using ridiculous comparisons to make their points.

I’ve seen the above meme shared in English and German. I don’t think it’s a very good comparison to our current situation. Whether or not you even have the ability to pee on someone has a lot to do with the equipment you have. I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I’m not able to aim my piss at other people. And most people aren’t running around peeing on people, anyway. That’s generally the kind of thing one must do on purpose. The virus is invisible to the naked eye and spreads through the air and on surfaces. It’s very hard to control the spread of it. Pee, on the other hand, can generally be controlled… at least by those who aren’t incontinent. Moreover, getting someone else’s pee on you, while certainly gross, probably isn’t going to make you deathly ill the way COVID-19 might. I also don’t like the rude, derisive tone of the above meme. I don’t think it does much more than insult other people who may not agree with wearing masks. Things are tough enough as it is right now. We don’t need to add to the stress by calling people “dummies”. Especially when legitimate scientists agree that maybe the people who aren’t on the face mask bandwagon aren’t actually dummies.

George made a lot of sense with this bit… I really miss him.

Because I don’t want to get sick, nor do I want others to fear me making them sick, I’m simply going to try to stay in my home as much as possible for as long as it takes. This mostly works for me, since I spend a lot of time alone anyway. Staying at home is the very best way to avoid catching or spreading the virus. I just hope I don’t develop agoraphobia or some other mental health problem by staying isolated. This is a bonafide side effect to social distancing. Some people have become despondent and yes, there have been suicides. God help the person who needs to speak to someone and be reassured during this time. Maybe they can score a Zoom session with a therapist, but that human touch will be missing.

There have also been suicides among healthcare professionals who face the daunting task of trying to help people who are extremely sick with COVID-19. Frankly, I can understand why some people are feeling anxious enough to consider suicide right now, especially those who were already suffering from social anxiety disorder before this virus hit. The idea of being forced to live this way for an indefinite length of time is scary and upsetting. Lecturing people about whether or not they wear a mask isn’t helpful, especially if you present them with “facts” you got via memes from Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and nowhere else.

My personal feelings about the face masks don’t mean I won’t wear a mask if it’s required by law. It just means that I personally don’t believe that they’ll necessarily do a lot of good. This is just my opinion, and I could certainly be wrong. I often am. And if it turns out that masks really are helpful and it’s been proven and peer reviewed by scientists, I’ll admit I was wrong. But I’ll wear a mask only because I don’t want to be fined, harassed, or lectured, not because I’m jumping on the social media bandwagon. And if I’m going to have to wear one every time I go out in public, I think I’d rather exit this existence anyway. It’s no way to live, and makes me really glad I never had children.