“The Age of COVID,” “Living in the Corona Century” and “The Warring Twenties” are just a few of the future history book titles coming to mind amidst the global pandemic. I am especially drawn to the last title as more and more protests are erupting in regards to wearing masks in public.
The OC Register published an article this past week where they refer to “mask shaming,” the prejudice between those who decide to wear face masks and those who don’t. In my opinion, “mask shaming” should really be inducted into the Webster Dictionary because the number of “mask shaming” cases have skyrocketed since the latest updates on stay-at-home orders.
I recently ventured into a Flame Broiler to simply order an iced-tea. I had a mask on. The gentleman who entered after me did not. The manager refused to serve him, respectfully acknowledging the sign out front — with its bold font and large print, you couldn’t miss it — which said, “No mask? No service!”
The gentleman then proceeded to call the manager vicious racial slurs and pulled out his phone to record the restaurant. The man also threatened to soil the restaurant’s reputation on Yelp. The manager kindly shrugged and told the man he was following OC Health Department Regulations.
People are also expressing their frustrations on online platforms. A colleague of mine asked on Facebook if face masks really do lower your immunity and reduce oxygen intake along with other issues that may increase your chances of getting the virus.
“If so, why make it mandatory to wear even if you have to go outside?,” she asked. The responses were somewhat neutral, with only a few commenters being hostile.
Some opinions included:
“When you’re in a mass populated environment, you have more rules to play with.”
“They aren’t protective against you getting an illness, and homemade masks, in particular, are not very effective in slowing the spread.”
“They cause headaches, breathing issues and can cause people to pass out which can result in other issues.”
Are these opinions really worth shaming those who want to wear masks? I think it’s a waste of good, healthy breath. The keyword here is healthy. At least we’re able to breathe with or without masks, free of any respiratory complications, unlike those suffering from COVID-19. While there might be a 60% immunity rate when wearing masks, there is absolutely 0% effectiveness that comes from physical violence and the belittling of other opinions.
A deep and lingering anxiety has been unearthed over the effectiveness of masks against the virus; it’s a sore wound for many. Masks are acting as a bandage covering transgressions over how our government is handling the transition into new, economic stages, how statistics and updates of the virus are being announced to the general public, and the specific measures that have been taken in order to contain the virus. The closer we get to a compromise between economy and council, the more that bandage starts to peel with many wanting to rip it off, thinking that will be the quickest way to heal. Others want to keep the bandage on, not for their own protection, but for the protection of the people they serve every day.
Of course, face masks are obvious reminders that we’re living in a pandemic, and for some, that’s become too much to handle, I get it. I think it’s safe to say that the war on masks is officially upon us. It is our duty to respect the precautions needed to take in order to reduce the anxiety of those with a higher risk of contracting the disease. Because to them, a mask might mean the difference between life and death, and who’s to say otherwise?
Emily Abeles is an Opinion Intern for the 2020 spring quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.