healthcare, mental health, modern problems

The latest scary British PSA and the enlightened double maskers…

My friend, who is American but lives in Britain, just shared this scary PSA from the British government about the importance of adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. They are asking people to stay home, wear masks, wash their hands, and do as they’re told.

I don’t deny the importance of doing the right thing.

Even though yesterday, I wrote about how I don’t think curfews are a good idea, I do think staying home is important. It’s important to stay away from other people as much as possible to help curtail the spread of the virus. However, many people are caught in an impossible situation. If you look at the comments on YouTube for this video, you can see how people wonder how they’re supposed to pay the bills if they heed this advice to the tee. Many people are still going to work away from home because they’re deemed “essential” and, if they don’t go to work, they won’t get paid or stay employed. It’s enough to drive a sane person mad.

As I watched the above PSA, I was reminded of the 1970s, when my dad worked at Mildenhall Air Force Base. We lived in base housing, but got local television rather than the Armed Forces Network (AFN). I distinctly being a small child, watching British TV. They were famous for their scary PSAs. A couple of people on YouTube made entertaining videos about that phenomenon some years ago. These were done long before COVID-19 was a thing.

The Brits are pretty good at scaring the hell out of small children.
A few more… nightmares! Did the children learn their lessons?

It’s not just the Brits who are being scary, though. A few days ago, I read an article on The New York Times about people who have now decided to “double mask”. My immediate reaction to that article was utter annoyance. I’m not gonna lie. And, just as I suspected, there were many insulting virtue signaling comments from people who apparently lack any understanding of human nature. There are still many people out there who won’t wear ONE mask, let alone two. There are some who will wear them, but not properly. And yet, the virtue signalers are now shaming anyone who refuses to don two of them or doesn’t want to put peer pressure on everyone to wear two.

Here in Germany, cloth masks are now outlawed, as of today. I mean, yes, you can wear them, but they’re forbidden in shops and on public transportation. If you go into a grocery store wearing a cloth mask, it’s very likely that the cashier will tell you to GTFO. In Bavaria, FFP2 masks are required for local trains and buses and for shopping. I don’t actually have a problem with requiring “better” medical masks. From the beginning of this nightmare, I have only used surgical masks, which are still okay in most parts of Germany. I never thought the cloth masks were effective. I don’t have a sewing machine, and even if I did, any mask I could make would not be as good as a disposable one made by a company that is in the business of making them. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I have no desire to wear “cute” masks. I don’t want them to be fashionable, because I want this to be a temporary thing. Maybe I’m fooling myself for having that wish… It’s beginning to seem like we’re never going to get our lives back.

What I don’t understand are the people who insist on telling everyone else how great they’re doing, following the rules, and how they were somehow more enlightened than the rest of us. So many people on the Facebook link to The New York Times’ piece are posting about how they’ve been wearing two masks the whole time. Others are posting about how they can barely stand to wear one mask. Those who are being truthful about how they’re struggling with this new way of life are being insulted and berated by unsympathetic people. Then there are the sarcastic ones making jokes, some of which, I must admit, are hilarious. I try to encourage the jokers. We need humor to get through this. I know if I can’t laugh, I’ll definitely cry, and that will lead to a loss of hope. A loss of hope will lead to darker things. Poor Bill has been such a trouper, listening to my non-stop bitching. He would have made a fine therapist.

Below is one comment I spotted… one of so very many.

Keep making fun but the doctors I know have been doing it since April. The nurses have to as well as we continue to wear masks long after they expire, we cover with a toss away to keep the larger droplets off. Most of the publics masks are thin and just for show. If you have a good one it will last longer by covering it with a toss away or a washable. At least we hope…. And if you are vain, then the cover makes it nicer looking. I will never understand the psychology behind antimaskers. The defiance, lack of self preservation, And ignorance is perverse. But for anyone who has real concern for themselves and others, this is smart, not something to ridicule.

To the above commenter, I would say that people need to laugh and make fun. If they don’t laugh, this situation will become truly overwhelming for a lot of people. This complete change in lifestyle is a huge challenge for many. I think those who are willing to do what they can, even if it means they just wear one mask, should simply be congratulated. Change isn’t easy, and shaming and lecturing people isn’t helpful. Neither is scaring the shit out of them with frightening PSAs. Here’s another comment from a true COVID-19 martyr who clearly deserves the gooiest of cookies…

The one time I flew during 2020 I wore a surgical mask, covered by a cloth mask, and a plastic face shield over both of those. Didn’t take any of those off from the time I entered my ride share to the first airport & the time I walked out of my destination’s airport before switching to clean masks before entering my parents’ car once outside & away from everyone. Even on my layover, didn’t take any of the masks off. 🤷‍♀️ It was super uncomfortable during my 12+ hour trip, but it protected me & my family I was visiting.

I’ve mentioned before how disconcerting I think it is when people won’t let others say what’s on their minds. It seems like if you aren’t cheerleading for all things that will theoretically stem the tide of COVID-19, you earn yourself a good self-righteous smackdown from someone who is apparently committed to doing all the “right” things (but is probably actually a hypocrite). It doesn’t matter what your feelings are or that it’s taking a toll on your mood. If you’re not with the program as the “experts” present it, you’re definitely part of the problem. I think people haven’t stopped to realize that the experts are changing their minds daily. Not too long ago, masks were not even recommended. Now they want us to wear two at a time. And people are claiming that even though less than a year ago, the U.S. Surgeon General actually tweeted a request that people stop buying masks, they’ve been wearing two masks at all times since last spring. I call bullshit.

Hmm… well, the experts’ thinking has definitely changed on this since late February 2020. So how is it that regular folks know better than the Surgeon General did last year? I guess we’re all public health experts now.

I notice that in this piece I wrote back in June, people were a lot more tolerant of those who have health or other issues that make mask wearing problematic. Now, if you’re not willing to wear two or three masks and a shield or a visor and gloves or whatever else, you’re a selfish asshole who deserves to die. Seriously, I’ve seen many mean-spirited comments from people who post responses like “RIP” to those who dare to admit they aren’t on the bandwagon. Some people are posting that they have trouble breathing with the masks. They are quickly told that trouble breathing can’t be their experience, even if it legitimately is. I mean, we’re all different, right? Just because you can wear two or three masks at a time, does that automatically mean everyone else can do it, too? Are we all the same?

Wow… all of these enlightened people!!! To that last commenter, I would like to say that it’s not really helpful to compare prior generations to this one. You can’t miss what you never had, and all generations have their challenges.

I don’t like the face masks. I have never made a secret of that. I stay home most of the time because I hate wearing them. I am fortunate enough to be in a situation in which I can do that. When I go out, I wear a mask. Just one mask. If I have to upgrade to a FFFP2 or a N95, I guess I’ll do that. But I refuse to jump on the shame train and turn into an insufferable asshole because of COVID-19. I have compassion for those who get sick, even if it’s supposedly their own fault. I think it’s hard for most of us to fathom how horrible this sickness is until it affects us personally. And some of us will do everything the right way and still get sick. Right now, God only really knows.

It’s probably a good thing I’m not on Stuttgart Friends anymore…

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social media, Trump

Rebellion!

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.

Slap 2020 on this and call it done…

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:

Personally, I found these statements offensive… and that made me disinclined to be swayed by Mr. Pavolovitz’s impassioned writing.

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.

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