May 18, 2020

590 words 3 mins read

Should I Wear a Mask

Should I Wear a Mask

Go ahead and wear a mask, especially if a merchant requires you to, or if not wearing a mask will cause someone undue anxiety. It’s charitable.

Also, if you’re highly active (get out a lot), you should probably wear a mask and wash your hands if you’re going to be around people who are more likely to suffer severely from Coronavirus: the elderly, the obese, people with chronic conditions. While we’re at it, basic practices our grandmothers taught us should always apply:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze or yawn.
  3. Don’t spit on people.
  4. Wipe down things you or other people touch.

If you cough or sneeze, a mask will reduce the volume and distance your germs travel. It won’t stop everything, of course, but it will stop some. You don’t need a physicist to tell you this.

Common Sense Is Allowed

Even before Coronavirus, I skipped weekly visits to my dad’s house when I or someone in my house was sick. It’s just common sense.

Two consecutive posts on Hennessy’s View discussed mask-wearing, among other things:

The Humane Approach to Coronavirus Is to Open Up Everything Masks Are Not to Control a Virus—Masks Are to Control YOU

Which has led a couple of people assume I would never wear a mask. But I would and do. I just don’t wear one as a matter of routine.

A business owner or manager has every right to require his patrons wear a mask on his premises, just as he may require shirts and shoes. If I want to do business there, I wear a mask. It’s as simple as that.

I have masks and I carry one in my pocket all the time (see photo). If Schnuck’s wants me to walk around their stores looking like an armed robber, that’s their business. I’m happy to accommodate, and I get a little thrill when people start fast-walking out of the aisle in fear, telling their children “don’t look at him.” If people want to be scared, I’ll give them something to be scared about.

Besides, I’ve carried a pack of respirators in my bug-out bag for years. When the crap hits the fan, you need to be able to breathe. At a minimum, always have a bandana or something in reach. That’s just basic survival training.

Don’t Get Into the Habit

What I object to is masks becoming s a new required article of clothing, like shirts, pants, and shoes. Masks are a problem, both psychologically and physiologically. They reduce mental performance by reducing oxygen intake and trapping carbon monoxide and dioxide. Numerous studies have shown this.

Moreover, societies where face coverings are normal (Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Communist China) tend to be societies we wouldn’t want to emulate. Myriad social psychology studies point out why this is: anonymity and inability to read a person’s facial expressions create distrust and promote anti-social behavior.

Avoid Black or White Options

As with most things in life, when to wear a mask requires some thought. There is no automatic answer that’s good for you and for society. “Always wear a mask” and “never wear a mask” are both recipes for misery and pointless arguments.

Instead, be a grown-up and discern. Understand the trade-offs. But if you need a haircut and your barber demands you wear a mask, wear a damned mask and don’t apologize or complain. Likewise, if you’re on a beach and you’re the only one wearing a mask, ask yourself why, and be honest with the answer you get back.