Understanding Bullshit: Anti-Mask Activists (aka Covidiots)
It’s just a piece cloth with two stretchy bands at two ends that you put on your face so you can cover your mouth and nose and acts as a barrier to the rest of the world. But to some (i.e. people so comfortable with their white privilege they think it protects them from catching Covid) it acts as a tyrant restricting the freedom providing breath of mother liberty.
As expected, the simple act of wearing a mask is being framed by many on the political right as a surrender to the forces of totalitarianism; an admission that you’re a gutless snowflake willing to let power-mad bureaucrats strip you of your most basic freedoms. These so called dissidents regard cloth coverings as symbols of societal emasculation (or e-mask-ulation, if you will). But a recent study has revealed what makes these people dismiss the warnings.
Researchers have found that whether or not an individual decides to follow social mandates depends on how much information their working memory can store, which determines mental abilities such as intelligence. Working memory is that part of our memory concerned with limited amounts of information used in the service of other mental processes for a short time. Several studies associate having more working memory with higher cognitive function. Of particular interest are the many studies that have shown that a higher working memory relates to being better able to follow new and complex rules, especially under stress. Test subjects with stronger working memories were much more likely to report that they had taken precautions to avoid COVID-19, such as wearing a mask or avoiding large gatherings, than others. The researchers also found a similar, but smaller, relationship between how well a subject socially distanced and their scores on a fluid intelligence and agreeableness test. (Turns out those who refuse to follow simple safety mandates are really just morons).
Likewise, most of the people who want the stores and bars and beaches to be mask free zones are not the people who have to work at those stores and bars and beaches. (Has anyone sufficiently answered why speed limits and seat belts are reasonable, but masks aren't?) Every time a business is badgered into opening, there’s a whole host of people who are pressed into service: not just the employees of that business but also the many folks who make up our whole societal support apparatus—sanitation workers, transit workers, parking valets, etc. Scores of humans have to risk their health just so a Trump voter can drink unobstructed by a face mask until they puke into a trashcan.
Quite simply: It’s the people who are most vocal about wanting the country to go back to normal who are making it too dangerous to go back to normal. It’s the people who are least concerned about their own health who are putting everybody else’s health at risk. The only rational response to these people who refuse to abide by mask mandates is for people who want to protect themselves to shelter in place even longer. At this point, even if the government provided widespread testing (which it still doesn’t) and these people knew they had Covid, I still wouldn’t trust them to stay inside. Society is only as strong as its weakest link, and right now our weakest links are showing themselves to be literal mouth breathers who can’t be bothered to cover their faces. (Or even return their damn shopping cart to the return corral).
The only thing that allows them to be so unbothered and so unwilling to take minimum precautions is their belief about who is really getting sick. A person walking around without a mask isn’t telegraphing that they don’t care about their own life; they’re shouting that they don’t care about yours. They’re willing to be the one who kills you, because they don’t value anybody’s life but their own. The most aggressive anti-maskers know exactly whose lives they aren’t interested in protecting: black and brown people, old people, and working class people.
To further clarify the issue: wearing a simple cloth mask in public is not an expression of fear. It’s an expression of courtesy and consideration for the people around you. It’s an acknowledgment of the fact that you could very well be carrying the virus without knowing it. And that means you could unwittingly transmit it to someone else. The sacrifices people made by shutting down and staying home in the early months is now just time lost because so many people are doing what they want, which they think means freedom. Some are spreading the virus because they long for the days when they did what they wanted and acted like the selfish brats they were and still are.
At this point it’s more about courtesy. It makes no difference if you think it helps contain the viruses spread or not. It’s a matter of respect. If someone asks you to remove your shoes before coming into their home, you remove your shoes. You could of course protest and bitch about what rights you have regarding your “inalienable prerogative” to wear shoes wherever you please, but it’s still courteous to respect the wishes of others when there is no real cost to you for doing so. The only reason you would refuse to take off your shoes is if in fact, you did not respect the other person whose home you were about to enter. Which is exactly why people refuse to wear a mask. They are disrespectful assholes. (Quick someone write a Birdbox fanfic where everyone refuses to wear blindfolds).
Moreover, if an establishment has a sign that says you must wear a mask to shop here and you enter without a mask then you have absolutely no right to protest being asked to leave … There’s no excuse — none, zero excuse — for creating verbal disturbances in a store where the rules are very clear. (And shut the fuck up about the fact that you don’t wear one. You’re not a hero or a patriot, you’re just a fucking jackass).
As a result, I’m now un-friending (in real life) all anti-maskers without hesitation. I’m tired of their false, ignorance-riddled bravado, as well as their unwillingness to learn anything about how masks actually work. (Their gross misconceptions sound like two-year-olds trying to explain nuclear fusion). They’re either unwilling or incapable of separating myths from realities and they continue to hawk thoroughly debunked bullshit about....well, everything.
For now, however, this viral tweet sums up the very unpolitical argument over wearing a mask pretty well: “Finally some good news, scientists discovered a treatment that can reduce COVID-19 transmission by 70%, and its just a piece a cloth you wear in front of your dumb fucking face.”