Earlier today I posted a meme thing on FB that basically said there are many reasons why somebody wears a mask and many why they don’t wear one – no matter which side you fall on, don’t be a jerk. I immediately got blow back from people wanting to know why certain things were and were not on the two lists. Seriously? If that’s your biggest problem with that meme, then you have been a jerk at some point and now you’re having to think about it in those terms.
We never like to be called out on bad behavior. It’s embarrassing to admit you’ve been a jerk. And when it comes to something that you know is personal…wearing a mask, you get even more uncomfortable. Regardless of their effectiveness masks have become a signal. Wearing it, a signal of your virtue. Not wearing one, a signal of your resistance to seemingly arbitrary rules handed down by governors without support from legislators. What does it mean if you wear one sometimes and not others? I’m not sure. Practical?
Full disclosure, I don’t wear a mask when I’m walking around outside. I do wear one when I go into the store. The stores are just trying to stay in business (yes, even the Target and Wegmans) and to stay in business they have to follow the current rules. I don’t want them to get in trouble and I need to go grocery shopping. I do not live in a state where I have options if I decide not to give a store my business because they require a mask. I can’t go anywhere else. But, believe me, I wear it as little as possible. After about an hour, I start to get eczema outbreaks on my face. I’m also slightly claustrophobic so wearing it for any length of time becomes very stressful. This means that the microsecond I get out of a store, the mask comes off.
At the same time, hell yeah, I laugh and comment – in my head – when I see people with their mask on their chin pull it up as they get near me. And I laugh at the sideways looks. But I’m wearing reflective sunglasses so they can’t see my eyes (which may explain why they don’t say anything…hard to when you’re not actually looking at somebody’s eyes). But…all of that is in my head, and I smile at everyone I pass on our walks. I do my damnedest to not be a jerk. At least not out loud to strangers. I try…emphasis on try.
When my husband and I go for our daily walk we do not wear masks. We have gotten some sideways looks, but nobody has said anything directly to us (not counting the Parks & Recs people today who offered us masks). In college a friend told me that I have a look that says “Fuck with me and I’ll bite your legs off”. I guess I still do. If anybody were to ever say anything to me, depending on what they said and their attitude, oh, they’d get a response.
It bothers me that many of my friends seem to feel that it’s required of them to make nasty, arrogant, and condescending remarks about wearing a mask. To go into “mansplaining” mode (both men and women do this), to let us hoi polloi know that we are so very, very wrong in our opinions and any data we bring to the table is clearly flawed. Many claim to want a clear and thoughtful discussion, but the minute you try to provide any counter-argument they balk. I know that nobody has ever won an argument on Facebook. But, c’mon. We can still have a civil discussion. Right? We can, if people remember that being a jerk is, as my dad would say, bad form.
Don’t be a jerk. Call out people when they’re being jerks. Don’t let them slide.