Wearing Masks, Then and Now

Athena ScalziBack in January 2018, I was traveling from California back home, and I was sick. I had gotten sick halfway through the week of visiting my family, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t travel. However, I was sick enough that I knew it was a bad idea to be in public, especially an airport. I knew that I was more than likely going to infect people if I flew, and I obviously didn’t want to do that. So I wore a mask.

My cousin had one of those blue, surgical masks that were super popular at the beginning of the pandemic, before anyone had the more “fashionable” masks. She said I could have it to wear at the airport. I wore it the entire time I was in the Sacramento airport, on the plane, and in the Dayton airport.

I got looked at like I was a freak.

People gave me weird looks, even dirty looks, the entire day. I’m not just talking one or two people, I mean practically every stranger I passed. From the people in line at security, to the people sitting at the gate with me, to those on the plane, almost everyone that looked at me made a face, or gave me a look. It really started getting to me. I felt like a weirdo, like there was something wrong with me, but I was just doing it in an attempt to protect them from me.

I was extremely lucky with my seating arrangement. I had the first row, there was no row across from it because it was adjacent to the bathroom, and there was no one in the seat next to me. Which meant no one was in my immediate vicinity.

The only person who didn’t actively look at me weird was the flight attendant. Bless her heart, she was so nice. She brought me extra orange juice and napkins after I threw up in the airplane-provided bag.

After my experience with wearing a mask in public, I wanted to write about it. I was tempted to make a thread on Twitter talking about how so many people looked at me weird for doing something completely sensible and normal. But at the time it felt like overreacting, like I was being too sensitive or that it wasn’t really a big deal.

But now, eleven months into the pandemic, where people are still shamed for wearing masks, called “sheep” or “pussies” for complying with mandates and attempting to protect others, all I can think of is that day two years ago. Even now, when I go into Kroger or Walmart and there’s signs plastered on every door that masks are required, I get looked at funny by the people that aren’t wearing one. Why am I the weird one?

Why are we, the ones that are trying to protect others, looked at like we’re the bad guys? I truly don’t understand anti-maskers, and I know it’s because I have what they lack. Empathy. Anti-maskers are unempathetic; to the people dying, the people suffering for months on end, the families planning funerals. They only care about their “freedom”; the freedom to risk the lives of others by going out and exposing people to a deadly virus. Anti-maskers are selfish, and have no compassion for their fellow citizen.

Why is it so hard for them to wear a piece of cloth in front of their face? Why is it such an unbearable burden to put a little bit of fabric over their mouth for the ten minutes they’re in Dollar General? Why is it an inconvenience to protect others?

I often think if the USA had the mindset that China or Japan does, where it’s common to wear a mask if you’re sick to protect others, that we wouldn’t be in this situation. But we as a country have never really been the community-oriented type. This pandemic should’ve made us more so, but sometimes it seems like it has done the opposite.

(Side note, if you’re someone who calls people who wear masks pussies, fuck you.)

So, in conclusion, please wear a fucking mask. Yes, we’ll make it through this, but so far two million people worldwide haven’t. A lot more will make it through this if we all wear a mask. Please.


73 Comments on “Wearing Masks, Then and Now”

  1. They want all the advantages of a liberal civilisation with none of the responsibilities.

  2. I admit I was always confused when I saw Chinese students wearing masks in the beforetimes, because I’d think (a) are they sick or just trying to avoid sick people, and (b) where the heck are they getting all these surgical masks?

  3. Completely agree. Here in Australia, it used to be very rare to see anyone in a mask.

    Thankfully now, the people who get the weird looks here are the people who are NOT wearing a mask in the supermarket!

    We had 3-4 months of compulsory masks in Victoria whenever you were outside of your home, that has now been relaxed so that if you are outside and not near people you don’t have to wear one, but it still is strange to see people not wearing one. It is less common in other states in Australia that didn’t go through a second wave.

  4. My wife and I have been asking each other these same questions since March. I wish there was a better answer than “Some people are just ignorant assholes”.

  5. I’m glad you wrote this. The husband from a wonderfully popular, generous couple in my town died from COVID just hours ago. Please wear a mask so you don’t cause the next tragedy in your neighborhood.

  6. I started wearing a mask whenever I’d have a cold the last few years at ThinkGeek. Generally no one gave me a second glance after I explained I was sick and didn’t want to share. Of course, my officemate occasionally showed up in a full Ghostbusters costume, so YMMV.

  7. Here in NoVa no one has said anything to me about wearing a mask, and everyone wears them in stores, and many do outside as well.

  8. We’ve had Covid “in the wild” around here since March. (The university med center treated some of the early evacuees, but I’m not counting those cases.) There’s been a sign on the door at work for almost as long saying that face coverings are required. I still get people walking in saying “Oh, I forgot my mask”.
    Unfortunately, telling them I’m denying service until they remember one isn’t an option, mostly-red state with a governor still sucking up to Trump. But at least I’ve got a plexiglass screen on the counter between me and them.

  9. I made my own masks in early April deciding that a home made N50 was better than a N0. In my grandparents time. along with their rights. people accepted the responsibility of the draft, rationing, light discipline, and were even willing to lock up fellow citizens because their grandparents and parents were Japanese to “win”. Now we have citizens who inherited their rights, believe they have no inherent responsibility to others, and they are something special. ~2% of US Citizens serve in the Armed Forces protecting their rights, but asking other citizens to wear a mask in recognition of the burdens other bear is just too much to ask. I don’t regret spending 27 years of my life defending those inherited rights. But I never imagined the same people who say “Thank you for your service.” would find wearing a mask too much to ask. No different in my mind of the spoiled aristocrats with inherited titles we through out in 1776. And like them, the “Rights without responsibilities.” people can’t see why we are so pissed off.

  10. In the dystopian world, where the individual was raised up as virtuous, yet subverted to buy and consume for the sake of unity, identity, the incidences of cognitive dissonance was ever more evident, to where individuals, banding together for simple comradery, marched through shopping malls, mask-less, shouting, declaring en masse, their unfettered individualism, while thousands of their neighbors lay in hospital corridors, in makeshift parking lot overflow tents, dying of the contagious disease that those masks would have protected them from.

    Dystopian novel, or History text?

    More cat pics, Scalzi. More cat pics…

  11. Some years ago I was flying back home for winter break in college when “end of the semester crud” hit me like a ton of bricks somewhere over Arizona. Thankfully, I actually had a mask with me, one I’d been given to deal with the ash from the really bad fires back in the fall (I guess I was taking it home as a souvenir?). I don’t know if the looks I got were from wearing the mask, or sounding like I was coughing up a lung, but I was too miserable to notice.

    Recently on a Zoom happy hour one friend said “when this is all over I’m burning my masks” and my husband and I were like “no, I’m going to keep mine” because we both work in open offices, and I know when we all go back folks are going to go back to bad habits of coming in to work sick (or expecting their employees to come into work sick).

  12. You did the correct thing, Athena.

    The problem is that Trump turned masks into a political thing. Wearing a mask is saying that the Covid-19 is a serious problem, which contradicts Trump’s position that the virus is trivial. If it is serious, it reflects back on Trump that he did not do his job properly. Trump and his followers can never admit that. So now, mask wearers are the enemy.

  13. A few weeks again, I suffered a serious brain-fart and walked into my local grocery store without a mask–and no one said anything. I realized what I had done–what I was doing–while in the produce section and promptly scrabbled in my purse to dig out the spare mask that I always carry. But I was appalled. I mean, I understand why I wasn’t stopped, or tsked at, or anything–people assumed I was doing it on purpose, making a political statement, and didn’t want to risk a confrontation so they just kept their distance–but still. It ought to be the people without masks in public places who get the condemning looks, not the properly masked ones!

    I guess I’m still appalled.

  14. When I first saw the directive to wear masks, I was like, “oh, it’ll be just like when someone’s sick in anime. Or, uh, in real Japan.” I have been sorely disappointed – nobody’s polite to a fault and there’s no awesome OP/ED music…

  15. Part of the reason for the current evil eye might be because of where you live. Nobody looks down on mask wearer down here. Of course Florida has had more than it share of idiotism, but masks are an accepted practice in Tampa, maybe not in more rural areas.

    A couple of years ago masks were very rare, only seriously ill people wore them and people did stare.

    Keep doing the world a service and keep telling everyone to wear a damned mask into anything other than your home.

  16. I admit, I was one of those who would have given you a funny look at the time had I been in the airport. I remember going to the beach last March with my gf, there was a guy alone in his car, windows rolled up, wearing a mask. I made a joke about him.

    That said, thanks. You probably weren’t contagious, but you were more conscientious than I was at the time. I didn’t start wearing a mask until early April (lag time due to Amazon orders arriving, I spent a week with a pulled up T-shirt covering my nose)

    On the other hand, if you’re in a car by yourself wearing a mask, yeah, I’m still gonna make fun of you. Especially if you’re on the freeway doing 80 MPH.

  17. My wife and I traveled back from Dublin 2019 on IcelandAir and took advantage of their free stopover offer to spend three days in Iceland. Unfortunately, my wife picked up some sort of bug (she suspects from the food service people at the Dublin Convention Centre). When we got to Reykjavik, we went to an apothecary (pharmacy) near our hotel and bought a few surgical masks. She wore the masks anytime we went out during the stay, and I’m pleased to report that nobody looked strangely at us that I noticed. They presumably assumed that either she was sick and being responsible, or possibly was immunocompomised in some way.

    (It was an expensive layover, and because she was sick, we didn’t get out much, but she loved being able to take long hot baths in the mineral-infused hot water of the city’s hot water supply, which is the water that runs their geothermal power stations. The slightly sulfurous smell was a feature, not a bug.)

  18. An ever-increasing portion of our population are simply assholes. It shows in so many aspects of their behavior and attitudes.

  19. I’m deaf. Completely deaf, to the point where hearing assistance isn’t possible. I depend heavily on reading lips and used to be able to converse fairly easily with people. Now? I live in a hot spot and thankfully, pretty much everyone is wearing a mask. I communicate by carrying a notepad and pen with me, using my phone notepad to type, and timing my errands for first thing when the shops open so I’m not getting stuck in a large group or holding up the line while I need to write. For the most part, people have been fabulous and understanding.

    If I can do it, they can do it. That they choose not to says something about who they are.

  20. Maybe because I’m in the medical field, my mindset is different. The first thing I thought of when I saw someone in a mask, before all of this, is that they were immune compromised, and were protecting themselves. Unless they are Asian. That trend started back in 2002, with the first SARS pandemic. You never know when the next virus will pop up. I’ve been traveling all through this, 4-6 planes a month, and for 14 years. It’s going to be really hard for me to give up my mask. You never know.

  21. Wearing a mask while wearing your eye glasses fog up is not fun. But protecting the ones around me including my 70 year old wife is much more important. When I do have to go out I see many people without masks or masks that are worn properly. I just think to myself … what a bunch of uncaring idiots. My family has worn masks ever since the first lock down and we will continue to do so until the all clear is given.

  22. I had a similar experience a couple of years ago. Some kind of tree or bush near one of my bus stops made my spring allergies flare up to the point I’d be coughing and wheezing all the way home, so I bought a box of black masks off Amazon and wore them for the season. And like you, I got some very, very strange looks. But I was very happy to still have some of those masks when March 2020 rolled around. I don’t get any weird looks or crap about wearing them now, but I live in a very blue county, so I’m not surprised.

  23. This sentence bothered me the moment I read it, and it’s still bothering me after reading all the comments.

    “(Side note, if you’re someone who calls people who wear masks pussies, fuck you.)”

    I get the sentiment and agree with it, but really if you’re someone who calls people pussies, fuck you. Calling someone else a pussy just seems so casually sexist, and I think I’m seeing or hearing it a lot more in the last year.

  24. Thanks so much for this, Athena. I’m from Canada’s west coast and I feel like the only reason there isn’t such a virulent anti-mask sentiment here (it does still exist, though) is because masks during flu season are much more normalized. A lot of Chinese and Japanese people live where I do, and mask wearing is a part of those cultures when people are sick. People see it every winter so I feel like they’re not as struck by it. I now feel like a dork for not wearing a mask during flu seasons before the pandemic, and plan to make it a part of my life going forward. It really does show empathy and care for others.

  25. Too many people nowadays are unwilling to sacrifice for the common good. It is that selfish mindset that has put America in the position where we now find ourselves, with a disgraceful number of people sick and dead and our pandemic response a laughingstock all over the world.

  26. I and the rest of my immediate family all wear masks when we go out, every time without exception. As the weather gets colder here in NYC, the masks make my eyeglasses fog over, so I face the choice between two kinds of blurred vision, with glasses or without. I’m also fat and out of shape, so sometimes I pant when I walk and feel like I’m not getting enough cool air to breathe. We wear masks because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s not without its burdens.

  27. @jim I might one of those people you’re making fun of. My masks are comfortable enough that sometimes I forget it’s on. Or at least forget to take it off when there’s no reason to wear it, like the car.

    I am still hoping to find out if cases of the flu and other common illnesses are lower this year because of more mask wearing, even if the people around Athena are jerks. I know my family has been healthier this fall and winter thanks to the practice.

  28. Larry Sanford, I haven’t tried this myself yet, mostly because I haven’t really had bad problems with masks-causing-glasses-fogging and I keep forgetting, but you might try washing your glasses with soapy water and then letting them air dry (or rough-drying with a soft cloth) before going outside. I’m told the soapy water leaves a very thin film on the lenses that prevents fogging. Someone also told me that a line of petroleum jelly on the bottom of the lenses also works, but that one struck me as awfully messy.

    In any case, I agree completely: protecting the people around me is far more important than a momentary inconvenience (that tends to happen when I wear a thick scarf on really cold days anyway).

  29. Well said, Athena! In the Before Times, I would wear an N99 mask whenever I went to the theatre because I’m allergic to perfumes, and I would always get weird looks and very rude questions. Now, I’m fortunate enough to live in a (non-US) place with a mask mandate that the vast majority of people abide by. I really hope that after the worst of the pandemic is over, the new “normal” will include wearing masks when you’re sick or during flu season, and less side-eye when I’m just trying to enjoy a musical, darn it. We’ve had much lower levels of colds and flu this winter thanks to COVID measures, and my immunocompromised body would love for that to continue in the future.

  30. I distinctly remember about ten years ago when one of my co-workers got sick, and came to work wearing a mask, because she couldn’t really afford to stay home. It was odd in the sense that most people in the US just don’t wear masks like that, ever. But apart from that, I don’t recall thinking much about it. Then, later in the day, HR forced her to go home, because apparently people had complained that she was making them uncomfortable by wearing a mask. “That’s kind of messed up,” I thought.

    But I think there are still way too many people out there who think of wearing a mask as protection for them, rather than everyone else around them. In fact, the better analogy is that not wearing a mask is like driving drunk. Mandating that people don’t drive drunk isn’t limiting their freedom except in the most specious sense. It’s about saving lives, just like mandating that people wear masks is about saving lives.

    I’d like to think a lot of these people would act more responsibly if they weren’t being fed a constant diet of misinformation by their far-right media bubbles. But who really knows, I guess. Regardless, I sure wish they’d wake up and smell the epidemic so we could finally get back to normal.

  31. Back in 2009, I was on a one-day business trip. I arrived one evening, was speaking the next morning, then flying home. I woke up feeling crappy; I gave my presentation, apologized for not staying for lunch, and raced off to the airport.

    The next day I realized I had H1N1. Resolved quickly, without ill effects, but I still feed guilty for flying maskless. I just didn’t realize.

    Good on you for thinking about it, even before COVID!

  32. It’s disturbingly ironic that:

    On January 12, 2020, if you walked into a bank wearing a mask, the security guard would accost you and someone would probably press a panic button.

    On January 12, 2021, if you walked into a bank not wearing a mask, the security guard would accost you from six feet away and someone would probably press a panic button.

  33. Trump’s politicization of it just reinforced an ongoing problem. The current state of the internet and social media exposes increased numbers of people to conspiracy theories, and gives a lot of reinforcement. View a conspiracy theory, and that kind of thing comes up in your timeline from then on. Anti-maskers now believe that the virus is either a hoax, or masks are, and people are getting sick because they are wearing a mask. Some believe the virus is being spread through contaminated mail, and masks and handwashing are useless. They think they can’t wear masks for any amount of time, because they are rebreathing bad air, ignoring that doctors, dentists, even painters wear masks shift long for their whole careers, so they can’t put up with it for the duration of a shopping trip without pulling it down to cough or talk.

  34. If your mask makes your glasses fog up, you aren’t getting a good seal around your nose. You need a mask with a soft wire insert. If you can get that wire shaped right, air doesn’t leak out there, and you get a lot less fogging.

  35. Suggestions on how to ask someone to fix how their mask is being worn?

    I was at CVS (CVS!) and the checker at the counter was doing the nose thing with her mask. Her mask had slipped down and I could see her nostrils peeking out the top of the mask. I said nothing, just avoided her line and went through the other line.

    But any suggestions on what I could have said besides “Hey fucker, wear your fucking mask right you fucker!” which is what I was thinking.

  36. Athena, as for the people looking at you, in place of labeling them as (expletive deleted), i would use the term “non-earnest.”

    When I was a teen, in the days of long hair, the non-earnest would try to say that you were square, or “not hip,” for not stinking up the place with tobacco, or for not doing cannabis which even back then was suspected to affect brain development. (Now the research is firm)

    You might remember when the non-earnest thought the rest of us were weird to expect them to talk using a normal volume on their cell phone, while they also felt entitled to give a waiter hassle, or a dirty look, when he suggested they take their loud voice over to the pay phones, to be away from the other patrons.

    Because these yahoos, not like you and I, felt such entitlement, it took far longer than it should have to pass laws against distracted driving. Lives were lost.

    Today I wonder if the loud and non-earnest are trying to fool not only us, but themselves too… like the criminals on TV being loudly anti-cop and against good citizens.

    I have decided in advance not to be intimidated when others are ignorant, but to take it as I sign that I am correct to be among civilized people, even if, as Thoreau might say, I am temporarily feeling like a minority of one.

  37. I recently turned 65 and I have underlying conditions. Regardless of vaccinations’ success, I expect I will be in a mask for the rest of my life (when around other people outside my pod). There will be another one.

    Furthermore, the Oregon forest fires got within 60 miles of our Portland house. We will have a choice of mask types, and we also purchased years’ worth of a very serious furnace filter (which makes a big difference when you live in a tightly sealed house).

    This shit is real.

  38. This isn’t about masks. I agree with the content and tone of your story, Athena.

    I want to know — you were able to take a direct flight from SMF to DAY? Like stay on the same plane with no layover? Wow!

  39. Good article. Not much left to add, so all I’ll write is that I immediately thought of this parody song from CollegeHumor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMZyZObOB54 (Living Mask free).

    Also, I agree with Brenna, it would be nice if wearing a mask could be more accepted even after this is over.
    Though to be fair, I’d be happy enough if people will continue to wash their hands regularly…

  40. I continue to be stupefied by American stupidity. Maybe if we all plug our ears and sing la-la-la the pandemic will just go away, ‘Oops, sorry, man.”?!?

  41. @jim, I don’t own a car, but I frequently wear a mask in situations where there’s no risk of transmission, e.g. walking outside with no people anywhere near me. The reason is that the outside of the mask can become contaminated with Covid-19, and I treat it with corresponding caution as soon as I’ve worn it in a potentially infectious environment.

    If my journey involves taking the bus (mask required), walking outside by myself (mask optional), and going into a shop (mask required), I choose to wear a mask the entire time rather than take it off and put it back on mid-journey and thereby risk contaminating my hands, coat pocket, etc. and perhaps infecting myself or others.

  42. “Why is it an inconvenience to protect others?”

    It only continues to be an inconvenience because the authorities refuse to enforce masking rules.

    Appealing to people’s better natures is generally pointless, especially in the case of libertards (dumb trash who see any measure aimed at preserving the rights of others as an infringement on “muh liburtuhs”). Thankfully, we already have a proven system in place to enforce compliance: fines.

    Indulge in anti-social behavior, such as speeding, drunk-driving, driving without a seatbelt, etc., and you risk paying a hefty price. In most places in the US, even parking or smoking in a non-designated area incurs a fine. This can, and should, apply to anti-masking libertards as well.

    Don’t want to comply with the masking mandates of a tyrannical government? Great. Put your money where your mouth is, and pay for the privilege of being an idiot. Public coffers fill up, and you get freedom-loving bragging rights for use in conversations with other libertards (“I paid $X in defense of MUH LIBURTUHS!”) once you run out of other fascinating discussion topics.

    But, to my knowledge, no state government, Red or Blue, has introduced such a mandate yet. One has to wonder why.

  43. I don’t understand Maskholes. I have to wear an N95 mask for 8 hrs at work and they bitch about wearing a cloth mask for the time they are in a store. I swear I want to bitch slap them. I got put in FB jail for calling one an idiot. Sorry, not sorry

  44. I’m cautiously optimistic that masks will remain socially acceptable even after the pandemic kerfuffle is over. I worked as a poll clerk in Georgia this past November and again in January. My precinct skewed pretty heavily Republican, but in a county that skews generally Democrat. My anecdotal evidence was that in November, about 85% of the voters either came in masked or masked up when they got to the door. In January, that number went up closer to 98%. There will always be die-hards, but I believe the message is slowly gaining currency that you freaking out about other people’s masks, makes you the asshole.

  45. I’m fortunate that I live in a city where most people wear their masks. I find myself giving the stink eye to those that AREN’T. I hope they feel like I’m judging them because I absolutely am.

    If someone’s looking at you like a weirdo for wearing a mask I would return their look with one of your own since you know they’re the asshole in this situation.

  46. @Jim
    “On the other hand, if you’re in a car by yourself wearing a mask, yeah, I’m still gonna make fun of you. Especially if you’re on the freeway doing 80 MPH.”

    My husband works at a car dealership. He routinely drives customer’s cars. He periodically does people the customer service of dropping off a loaner and driving their car into the dealership for repair, especially if they are elderly and are afraid to go to the dealership in person, and conversely, returning their cars home to them and picking up their dealer loaner. Every night when he gets home, he wipes down every car he brings home, and strips in the garage so his work clothes don’t enter the house, and goes straight to the shower before he touches me or the dogs.

    Other people may have borrowed a friend’s car. Or been in their own car with someone else. Or know that they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID and want to minimize the possibility that they’re contaminating the car for other members of their family until they can get home and wash up and wipe down the car. Or live with someone who has Covid or has tested positive. Or work in healthcare and are doing everything they can imagine to keep their family safe.

    I’ll grant that such things aren’t going to apply to everyone you see on the highway. But consider that some of the people you’re making fun of may have very good reasons to do what you’re seeing. It’s not automatically that they’re idiots.

  47. I don’t understand why people don’t either. I think those people and everyone really needs to read the book The Stand by Stephen King. I’ve been listening to it and it’s uncanny how he wrote it many years ago.

  48. I had the glasses-fogging problem, but even worse, every time I looked down my glasses would fall right off my face.

    I found that if I slid the temple-tips under the elastic band holding the mask to my face it secured the glasses and then I could also move them a little forward on my nose, over the mask, where they fogged less. (if you do that without securing them in the elastic they will fall right off)

    Takes a second or two to set up, and a second or two to take off, but works wonders.

  49. I would question the idea that the US has never been community oriented. Starting with the religious separatists, who had very tight knit communities, moving on to include nearly every war save the Revolutionary War and the Civil War (particularly WWII) through the Red Scare, communities leaned on each other in hardship. Immigrant communities have traditionally ben big on community, insular as a protective act. I think when the community model really breaks down is the development of the freeway system, which led to suburbs and people driving to work in little capsules, isolated from fellow commuters. So in these times, I agree that the sense of community is pretty weak. There’s a strong feeling that your social system ends at your front door, inside where there’s air conditioning, and a lot (most?) of the time people may recognize some of their neighbors by sight but there’s no sense of cohesion.

    And that’s my word fountain for the day.


  50. There’s a great line at the beginning of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: “This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to.”

    That last sentence drives all of us to do certain things because, when you come right down to it, this is what our nation was founded on. Most people, though, don’t really get the concept that the basic rights we have are generally limited by law in an attempt to control our worst behaviors, social and otherwise. We also have too many people who tend to make up new “rights” as they go along, perhaps in a misguided attempt to make life easier for themselves, without realizing that THEIR “rights” may infringe upon MY rights. The result is akin to anarchy as small groups of people place larger and larger burdens on society as a whole by their uneducated, inept and, often, dangerous actions. We’ve seen this too many times this past year with the huge COVID spikes post holidays as people travel, with the pro-Trump and pro-BLM rallies/riots, and with all the “Karen” stories. As Dogbert says: “People are stupid.”

    Until this past year, I flew a lot for work (almost every week) and would always see a few people in airports and on planes who were wearing masks. I was always thankful that they made the effort to keep me from catching whatever the hell they had (flu, cold, whatever). Anyone who looked down on you for doing so is a complete idiot, so just keep on doing it.

  51. If you ever find the answer, share it please. It’s a puzzle.

    I’d say 90% of today’s awful is due to racism. The mask thing may be people taking offense that mask wearers are accusing them of being “dirty.”

    A large number of Americans I have met have huge honking chips on their shoulder, and get a drug high off being offended.

  52. The whole Trump ethos seems to be aggressive entitlement and selfishness (“I’m entitled to the status and life that I want, and no one or nothing else matters”) combined with an unwillingness to understand adverse data and consequences, both logical and social, and so the idea that people that buy into it don’t want to wear masks is unsurprising. I keep being disheartened by what level of cognitive dissonance people can maintain, but a whole bunch of people gone because you couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask might do it? I think we’ve fought over how much power individuals and societies and governments should have and how much we should give for others (and it’s been a dominant theme of the political shifts in the last years), so changing the balance between those powers is going to be hard for lots of people, and masks are the visible symbol of that.

    I think being able to look at people’s faces is seen as an important social interaction in normal times – there was the argument over various head coverings, although that was a lot of masked (or not so masked) racism and control, both here and in France – and it will probably be an issue, though maybe its social cost will be lower because people realize what its benefits to them are.

  53. My niece’s husband posted on Facebook his reason why he does not believe in masks. His theory is that the virus is so small it will go right through the mask, so it won’t protect you at all. I wrote a short, carefully worded response about how masks are meant to protect others, not yourself. That merited about a thousand word response of vitriol. I was called a sheeple and a libtard. He insulted my education because my Ph.D. means nothing compared to his knowledge from the Internet. He spewed such hatred that I had to unfriend him and my niece, who decided to weigh in about how rude it was that I insulted her husband. I heard my sister tore up our Christmas card and threw it in the trash.

    It’s not about masks. It’s about hate.

  54. “(Side note, if you’re someone who calls people who wear masks pussies, fuck you.)”

    So much this.

    This particular breed of covidiot seems to be arguing that those who are unwilling to contract and/or spread covid are cowards, and all because Trump and conservative media outlets told them so.

    Had they been instructed to think and do otherwise, MAGA masks would be flying off the shelves, and pro-life advocates would be screaming at the top of their lungs for bare-faced folks to think of the chiiiiiiildren.

    And now, members of congress are probably coming down with covid because they had the bad luck to be locked down with covidiots who didn’t want their covidiot supporters to catch them taking basic preventative measures.

    They’d rather risk and cause death than be caught contradicting Trump and Faux News’s declarations that Covid is either a liberal hoax or a very real virus that only impacts old people and people of color.

  55. Well put. (I haven’t read the comments yet, so apologize if I repeat what others have said.) At least in New York, it is different. It’s more (I feel) like seat belts – people bitching and whining at first, but little by little it became more accepted and people got used to it (or wore it so they wouldn’t get a ticket). Now, it is just accepted in stores at least that you wear a mask, period. On the streets, it still varies. Downtown Brooklyn, almost everyone other than the homeless guys begging for money, is wearing a mask. It’s reassuring. Also, it explains why the positivity rate there is so much lower than places like, say, Staten (Trump) Island, where it is triple. We notice when we’re out for a walk, the closer we get to the Avenue where the stores and restaurants are, the more people are masked. Otherwise, someone out walking her dog or drinking coffee or smoking, probably not. But no one EVER acts like there is something wrong with you for wearing a mask, with the exception (and we have a couple in this building) of those who are an extreme MAGA Nut. A woman in the elevator told me the only way I would catch the virus was from wearing a mask. I just stared her down and she changed the subject,

    Freedom? Yeah, like the freedom to speed through red lights with your eyes closed? No.

  56. I have a kidney transplant, with the attendant immune-suppressing meds for life to keep my immune system from attacking my kidney. Every flight I have taken since my transplant, I wear a mask, but for the opposite reason: otherwise I will get sick every single time I travel.

    During the pandemic, my family and I have been locked up the whole time. Though reasonably young, I am in the same risk group as the 85 yos. There’s evidence for flu and anecdotal evidence for COVID-19 that dose of exposure can increase severity. And if somebody in your house gets sick you will get a much larger dose than if you had randomly encountered some particles in the store. So my family has to be just as careful as I am, or they will kill me.

    Yet I frequently see people without masks. And I can’t help but think: these folks refuse to look out for me. And I can reasonably speak for the elderly on this. For cancer patients. People with auto-immune diseases and so on immune-suppression meds. It doesn’t feel like those people give a crap about us> Can’t be inconvenienced even in the slightest. Was there ever greater privilege?

  57. @Fatman, one reason there’s no mask mandate comes from the left. The left rightly (ha!) points out that it will lead to unwanted police interactions with people of color, who will bear the brunt of fines, arrests and police killings.

  58. Since my town is Asian-majority, I’m used to seeing older people with masks on when they’re outdoors. My sister and I were talking – we intend to continue wearing masks after the pandemic during flu season.

  59. Just heard that US house reps are going to be fined for going bare faced; the first ding is 500 bucks and the second is 2500 bucks.

    Not sure what happens after that, but I like this as a first step.

  60. In Georgia, i’ve got no funny looks or open teasing about masks. For the most part, folks here believe that politeness requires no discussion of any political subject.

    If you bring it up, they mostly won’t argue but think you’re rude.

  61. We were wearing masks back in October and November 2019 in Sydney because it was so Smokey from the raging bushfires that walking my kid to primary school was a orange hellscape.

    But I did not see myself wearing masks to go to the supermarket in 2020.

    My 3 almost 4 year old copes better than all of us (including her older sister).
    It’s 2nd nature for her now and she likes wearing it.
    How messed up is that?

  62. If my 4 year old can wear a mask when she’s out and about happily without complaint, a grown arse adult can too.
    Where I live we have a instant $200 fine if your caught in stores without a mask but even before that people are compliant.
    Also as soon as there is a case and all of the places that person has been are listed by test and trace everyone shoved a mask back on. (In Sydney, Australia we are in single figure cases since an leak at managed Quarantine)

    I use them as an arsehole detector.
    People who won’t wear them and won’t social distance are best avoided because they are giant arseholes.

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