Last Friday as I pulled up to work, I do what I do every day: pick up my gaiter mask from the emergency brake and put it over my head. As I did so, I experienced every ounce of everyday oppression that modern man endures.
Wearing a mask is, indeed, a small thing to ask, but it’s become the proverbial straw—and my face the camel’s back.
So I decided, then and there, to make an extremely small stand for my own independence. In some limited scenarios, I am going to stop wearing my mask publicly.
Readers will note how mild this resistance will be, and will likely criticize the number of exemptions I’m allowing myself, but it’s gotten to the point where I have to do something.
While I appreciate that masks appear to be a commonsense way to prevent the spread of a disease—like sneezing into the crook of one’s arm—they’ve also become part of the kabuki theatre of our lives. Just like TSA pat-downs at the airport, mask-wearing seems like a mostly symbolic way for us to feel safer, even if they ultimately aren’t very effective.
Consider: the biggest mask advocates cite their use in hospitals, etc., but doctors and nurses are trained in proper mask wearing, and also wear a great deal of other protective garb. Normal people are not, and are constantly touching their masks (and, by extension, their faces!), fiddling with them, pulling them down, etc. I know I am constantly adjusting my mask.
I also imagine most people don’t clean their masks properly, or change out to new ones. Because we have to wear them everywhere, I have to believe many Americans are simply putting on whatever they have at hand, even if they’ve worn it three days in a row. Target doesn’t know if my mask or clean or not; I’m just putting it on so I can buy eggs.
I’m not a die-hard anti-masker, but I also think there’s a lot of wishful thinking involved with the wearing of them, too (it can’t be healthy to wear a bacteria-laden mask over your face all day, every day). To that end, here is my new personal policy:
- I will continue to wear my mask at work, because it’s a requirement for my job.
- Everywhere else, I will have my mask ready in my back pocket, but will not wear it until I am asked or told to do so.
- If/when I’m asked to put on a mask, I will do so without complaint, but will remove it again as soon as I am off the premises.
- If visiting places with sensitive populations—hospitals, retirement homes, the home of an immuno-compromised person—I will wear a mask. If I am visiting someone and they request a mask, I will wear it, but otherwise will not do so.
This level of resistance is, indeed, the minimal possible, but it’s the bit I’m willing to do to push back—gently—against mask hysteria.
I’ve run this plan by a small handful of people. I’ve been surprised by the backlash to even this minimal level of resistance. One conservative friend (who, I will say, is a bit of a Fauci Fan) told me I was “overreacting.” My girlfriend, a bit of a True Believer when it comes to masks, told me she was “disappointed” by my plan (but a weekend of pumpkin carving and Halloween fun helped soften the blow).
It’s shocking to me how quickly and willingly we adopted these literal and metaphorical muzzles. I thought Americans would never stoop to such an Asiatic form of social conformity, but here we are.
There are some positive signs, though. One friend wished me luck, and noted how many places don’t let you in without a mask. He did seem to think it would be easier to get away with in a small town.
I did note, too, during a visit to a big box store over the weekend that a number of people were not wearing masks. I picked up some propane at a U-Haul place, and the guy who filled up my tank was conspicuously mask-free. I’ve never seen someone who looked so free.
Finally, several of my private lesson students’ parents have told me I do not need to wear a mask. They’ve volunteered this information to me—I did not ask them if I could remove my mask during lessons. I have one family with elderly grandparents, so they understandably ask that I wear a mask, but I can tell even they don’t like that we have to wear them.
So, we’ll see how my experiment in incredibly mild resistance goes. I’ll keep you posted. Of course, this time next week we could be facing the Second American Civil War, so we’ll have bigger masks to fry then.
Tip The Portly Politico
Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.