I have finally surrendered to the very real possibility that mandated mask-wearing will be permanent, particularly in California where I live and in other blue states, and ordered a mask of better quality than the hard-to-breathe-in little blue one I’ve been wearing. Some doctors have said that the coronavirus could hang around for years, never being cured but eventually being treatable, like HIV. If the virus stays so do masks.
Another indication of permanence is the ubiquitous TV, internet and print ads for face masks, some elaborate in their features and some as expensive as $29.99. Advertisers would not spend money promoting a product they thought was going away. And as mask-wearing becomes as automatic as seat belt use, they are increasingly seen as a fashion statement. As a child of the Fifties I’ve chosen an Elvis motif.
But the sociological change is going to be enormous. I see a difference already in my excursions to the post office, bank and other places. It used to be that people who didn’t know each other would often offer a “Good morning” or “Hello.” Now, more often than not, eye contact is not made or heads are turned away completely. With people in their own private worlds barricaded behind a mask, the warm greeting is being replaced by the cold shoulder.
Interpersonal relationships may never be the same again. In order to “read” a person you need to see their entire face, not just their eyes. Quite simply, masks are anti-social. Americans have long been known to be inherently friendly but this trait will be diminished by masks or changed into hostility with “mask shaming” directed at people who rebel at wearing them.
We have an example of a single event creating permanent change. Remember the “shoe bomber?” One person did one thing one time and now we walk shoeless through airport security for all eternity. Because so called social distancing is not enough for the “experts,” I put mask wearing in the same category of permanence.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here