Wear a mask or don’t. Just don’t be ugly about it

Published 2:11 pm Friday, May 22, 2020

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I need to be honest about something.
I don’t normally wear a mask when I’m out in public.
Why? For two reasons. The first one is I wear glasses, and wearing a mask causes my glasses to fog up quicker than you can say the phrase “coronavirus in my eyes.”
The second — and more legitimate — reason is because I had a serious, off-record discussion with a person in the medical field whose opinion I trust.
I asked this person, who’ll be identified as Pat, how important masks are when around other people.
Pat said that media reports of masks being beneficial in slowing the spread of COVID-19 have some merit to them, but it’s not necessarily to the point that some would like to think it does.
So does that mean I’m inconsiderate and have no concern for others’ health over my own comfort? No.
Because if that were the case, not only would I not wear my mask in public, but I’d also feel compelled to reach out for a handshake with friends or get close for a conversation.
I don’t do that.
Pat told me the problem with masks is it gives the wearer a false sense of security.
Like a person who doesn’t want to put on sunscreen feels a little more freedom when it’s cloudy outside, they’re still exposing themselves to harmful rays from the sun. While the clouds are blocking a lot of the sun’s intensity, the danger is still present of sunburn or longer-term effects like skin cancer.
A similar concept can be applied to COVID-19, flu, strep, pneumonia and anything else we may be carrying around in the petri dishes we like to call our faces.
Covering our mouths and noses but still being able to breathe doesn’t block so much of the virus that it makes us able to avoid spreading the virus. It has an effect, but not so much that we get to abandon all other suggested policies to slow the spread like social distancing.
If you’re wearing a mask but you’re going to be all up in my face telling me about how much you’re either hating or enjoying being in quarantine, you might as well not be wearing a mask.
Whether or not you think we should be wearing masks, you probably have a bit of correctness to your argument.
If you think I should wear a mask when I’m in public to protect you and anyone else I may find myself in close proximity to, that’s a sound statement given the conclusions medical professionals have come to in the past few months dealing with this.
If you think masks don’t protect us from the spread, that’s a valid argument given the research we’ve been presented publicly too.
We’ve got people on both sides of the issue who believe they’re right so much and trust the research that supports their stance to the point that they’re willing to risk relationships with friends or act like jerks in public to someone they see acting differently than them.
I understand emotional responses are coming from a place of protecting something — either protecting lives or protecting freedom.
We need to protect both. If you feel safer wearing a mask, then please wear one. If you don’t want to wear a mask and have the freedom to refrain, then by all means refrain.
If you enter a business that requires a mask to be worn by anyone entering, don’t record a livestream on your social media avenue of choice berating that business for violating your rights as an American.
You have the right to make your choice, they have the right to make their choice as a business. If a restaurant requires me to wear a mask until I’m served their food, then I should have no problem wearing a mask if their food is what I’m really in the mood for that evening.
If another restaurant is not taking precautions that I think they should be taking, then maybe I need to decide to dine elsewhere until things calm down.
It is possible for us to protect ourselves from the virus, preserve our own freedoms and respect the freedoms of others all at the same time. It just takes a little work at not being a jerk for some of us more than others.
(Brandon Shields is the editor of The Jackson Sun)

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