Last week, I met a new guy and 15 minutes later I called him a “f**king idiot”.
In the midst of a pandemic, covid-related subjects come up quickly in a conversation. He happened to say he doesn’t wear a mask at his workplace because he wants to “breathe properly”.
Well, guess who also would like to breathe properly… the people he will potentially infect and who might end up on a ventilator, or even dying.
People Like This Guy Are Everywhere
The other day, my landlord came into my apartment not wearing a mask. The same day, while shopping for groceries, I saw dozens of people walking past with the mask covering their mouths but not their noses.
How hard is it to wear a mask properly when you are with others?
This is not a rhetorical question. Please, enlighten me. How hard is it for you?
Judging by the behavior of all these people, for them, it’s incredibly hard.
Put on a mask.
Oh, but it hurts so much. I feel sick. I get a rash all over my body. My fingers fall off. My brain explodes.
If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms because of wearing a mask, you have my total empathy for not wearing it. But if not, then put on your f**king mask. Properly.
Studies show that wearing a mask helps to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Since this is an air-borne disease, transmitted through respiratory droplets, a mask is a barrier in the movement of those droplets. It protects those who wear it and, mostly, protects the people around.
When the pandemic started, many governments were slow in making masks mandatory. But almost all of them have corrected the course and make it now a must in closed spaces. According to the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are only 3 occasions when wearing a mask is not advised, when in public, with other people:
- Children under 2
- People with disability who can not wear it for reasons related to it
- People to whom wearing a mask would create a health and safety risk in the workplace, as determined by the workplace risk assessment
As you see, being selfish, lazy, or stupid is not part of the list.
The Pandemic Could Be Over by Now
Look at New Zealand. It’s paradise on Earth. People walk around without masks, they work in offices, they go to concerts. Because they can — they’ve beaten the virus.
Or many Asian countries, who have managed to keep very low numbers. Vietnam, Singapore, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, for example. A study from Duke University shows that, on one hand, these countries have historical experience dealing with pandemics. On the other, people are better at following rules.
“People in most of our study countries and regions in Asia were better able to take advice and guidelines on face masks, social distancing, and self-isolation than their counterparts in Europe and the U.S.”
In the meantime, in the West, we have been struggling for almost a year, going through cycles of lockdown and opening up, endlessly.
Apparently, in the west, people need to “breathe properly”. They need to have a drink with their friends. And they need to do it without a mask, obviously. Because when you see a friend and you’re both wearing masks, usually one of your limbs falls off. True story.
This shows how selfish people are. It shows how many of us can’t see beyond our own little bubble. Sure, you might be young and healthy and not be concerned with falling sick.
Well, then consider this:
- The long-term effects of coronavirus are still to be properly studied. Even young, healthy people with mild symptoms can be part of the “long-haulers”, people who experience health changes for months after being infected.
- You don’t matter.
Let me expand on that.
Nobody cares about you. That’s great news, most of the time. You can do whatever you want, you’re free. That’s one of the great achievements of the 19th century — individualism.
- Do you want to marry a person of your own gender? It’s your business.
- Do you want to never work because you inherited a lot? It’s your business.
- Do you want to eat nothing but burgers your entire life? It’s your business.
- Do you want to walk around without a mask on your face in the middle of a pandemic? It’s not just your business.
Your freedom ends where mine begins.
You spreading your virus around will interfere with my freedom, with the freedom of your co-worker, the lady in the supermarket, the bus driver, eventually circling back to your own family.
And when you see your parents dying of covid, you will have a hard time “breathing properly”.
Wearing a mask is not the magical solution that will help us put an end to this. We still need to keep our distance, wash our hands, and refrain from doing most of the activities we were used to.
Being outside, meeting our friends, hugging our extended family, having fun at social events — letting go of all this takes a toll on our mental health. We are social creatures, we need human touch. This is hard.
But wearing a mask? That’s damn easy.