Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
I sat down at a restaurant the other day; it was slow, as most dining rooms have been the last two weeks. I live by myself and like to talk, so I like having conversations with the wait staff fairly often. I can’t remember the comment I had (something about a COVID impact on the restaurant I think), the lovely lady said, “You can’t see it but I am smiling behind this mask.”
It was such an unintentional comment that hit on why face masks are such a socially dangerous virus. That phrase stuck in my mind and I kept keep thinking about it. I did not get why it impacted me and what it really was saying until a day or two later.
I was in the check-out line a Winn-Dixie (a grocery chain in the south). My cashier was an older man with glasses, and all the other employees were wearing a face mask. He has a clear face shield on, the first I had seen in public. I commented on how I liked face shields a lot better than a face mask. We talked a bit more, and in the end, he asked me how work is going. I responded as I was leaving not good, I hate working from home.
As I got in my car I felt such satisfaction and good vibes. I was thinking about what a lovely brief conversation we had just had. I felt like I just had a great meaningful social interaction with a stranger, which has been so sorely missing with my friends let alone strangers. It was like a breath of fresh air. Then I realized why: It was because he had a face shield on. I could actually feel like I was communicating in person with him. Why, I thought?
Then it hit me, I actually don’t mind people wearing face shields in public because I could actually see his whole face. All the other issues together with face mask don’t really matter to me nearly as much to me than that one thing: Seeing a person’s whole face. It’s covering faces that drives me to almost militancy.
I am in the almost militant anti-face mask faction. If I were not more of a libertarian, I would say covering your face in public should be against the law, like it was three months ago in most cases (at least in Florida).
My beef had been both deep and broad and comes from many angles: From being virtually scientifically worthless (or worse with how most people deal with mask) to how it’s all about virtue signaling, to how it assumes you are guilty and not presumed innocent without proof you are an infection vector of COVID, to many other arguments.
The mask symbolizes so many things: government overreach and overreaction to an epidemic. People giving up freedom for fake safety etc. Government overreach with no science or data to back it up. All of that for a semi-common epidemic, that will happen at least every generation.
However, I realized all that was secondary when it came to my emotional hatred of them. Why I really hate them is because a mask is a blatantly anti-social device and anti-communication medium. I think this reason of hatred might be true for most anti-maskers.
The mask separates you from other. It’s a medium that is communicating so many things and preventing the communication of so many other things.
I see a face mask as a symbol of separation and oppression every bit as bad as one of those more fashionable face coverings; you know the ones rich middle eastern women love, not quite a Burka but close to it but it looks a lot better.
The burka is a sign of religious fundamentalist oppression of women in places where women are considered inferior and need to be separated secluded and protected from others in public. I don’t see how the face mask debate is any different from a theological argument than fundamentalist Muslims make. It is an oppressive fundamentalist religious fanatic sect call “Safety First” that is making basically the same argument with a modern marketing spin. (The safety blanket sect works also but what I really mean is modern Cowards who are acting childish for pretend safety).
Many of us know most communication is non-verbal. The number usually used is 55% of communication is body language and I would argue almost all that body language is coming from the face. When someone frowns, smile, is surprised, etc, it so great to see and understand that. It’s so critical to being human.
I love spending time with my little nieces. The youngest can’t talk but her facial expression communicates so much. We all love to laugh and comment on and get so much pleasure from her face. Heck, that is why babies are almost universally loved. They communicate with their face and so are expressive and cute and we get so much joy and pleasure from those expressions. Almost every single popular emoji is based on facial expression. That should tell you something on its own in how important faces are.
When you are so scared and put on a face mask. You are actually being cruel to others, and not letting others enjoy your presence anywhere near to its fullest.
I am a Florida boy, so I don’t really know anything about needing to cover your face in extremely cold temperatures, and correct me if I am wrong… but there is almost no to very little social interaction going on outside in cold temperatures when face covering are needed. Is it not normal, once you are indoors almost universally to uncover your face? That is when it is needed we try to minimize covering, especially in places where we have social interaction, or at least it used to be a few months ago.
There is a deep primitive emotion in us we maybe can’t put into words or think about. But covering your face is something criminals and people who don’t want someone else to know who they are doing. There is this sub-consciousnesses in us that does not trust someone who is covering their face. Not only can I not enjoy and really know what you are thinking and really saying, but you are signaling you must be up to no good, or trying to cover up, are lying or being dishonest in some way. Even if I intellectually know that is most likely not true, it does not stop me from dealing with it emotionally in the background at a very primitive level. Your face is so important for me to read what your real intentions are. Therefore influencing how I see you because it, not a social construct or culture it’s deeper than that, it’s human biology.
In the end that is what I hate about all of this. It’ the social aspects being considered trivial compared to a theoretical physical issue. I think I rightly feel and am fully justified, that wearing a face mask, social distancing, and considering it evil to interact, hug and shake hands with another human being is anti-human, anti-social, and to use a Christian Term, from the Devil.
Those are actions of people who have serious social anxiety would engage, not mentally healthy people. We say we are doing this because we care about others’ health, yet mental health which is the root of what it means to be human is completely ignored and trampled on.
Healthy interactions that we would say are good for mental health and just help us enjoying life has a human is now considered socially faux pas or just against the law.
So when you wear a mask, and or socially distant from me and others you treat me and others as an outcast and social paria. I hate it, it makes me feel like garbage. I find it disrespectful and rude. It’s saying you dislike me and want to have nothing to due with me. You are saying don’t even talk at me or look at me, leave me alone. I think it feels a bit like how racists treat the inferior in public.
It is a militantly anti-social action and it leaps and bounds worse than pulling away when someone wants to shake your hand. Which was previously considered rude. Your unjustified irrational fear is a sorry excuse to miss-treat your fellow human being.
Death comes to us all, you have a 100% chance of dying. In the end what matters is how we live, not how or when we die. People are really about the only thing that matters in life. I don’t know about you, but I have heard stories and have known people who are in major pain and sickness for years, yet they have such joy and contentment. They are a blessing to others around them because their interactions are infectiously positive. They understand their mental state and how they treat others is more important than their extreme physical misery. They are the truly courageous and role models we should look up to. They understand at such a deep level what life is about and what it really means to be human.
Sickness, death, and hardship will come there is nothing we can due to stop that; it’s how you deal with it and making the most of whatever cards you are given. That is what matters as a human. Having good mental health and joy amid pain and sickness is what separates the true heroes from the common people. I would argue happy warriors are the only heroes.
Fear costs all of us something. In this case, it is costing us maybe the most critical thing it means to live a meaningful life, in the few years we all have on earth. We are trading physical security for mental misery. Physically misery is almost guaranteed to come since we have little control over. Whereas mental health, we have so much more control over in the long run (I am not saying complete control).
So in the end be pro-human. Be pro-mental health and love your neighbor. That means caring not just about their physical well being but their personal, social and mental well being.
If you actually like people, and social interactions but are concerned about getting or spreading a dangerous virus, wash your hands before and after entering public places, excessively clean, change into clean clothes before and after you go in public. Then if you think you need a bit more protection than the scientifically proven methods, go buy a face shield. At least you can have fairly normal interactions with your fellow humans and signal that interactions with your fellow human beings actually matter. Plus they are a lot more comfortable to wear with glasses.Published in