The Masked Society

The Magickal Mask of Mystic Virtue ye shall have with you always.

According to a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70 percent of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 wore masks regularly. By contrast, under 4 percent of those testing positive never wore masks.

Coupled with this was an extensive review of mask studies worldwide in which the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) determined that typical cloth masks did little to stop the transmission of COVID-19. Although experts like to claim that cloth masks will prevent droplets carrying the virus from reaching others when a person sneezes or coughs, the reality is that most people are probably better off using their elbow and turning away from others. Moreover, the virus can still pass through a cloth mask, and the eyes, which aren’t covered, can act as “a portal of entry.”

The scientific evidence here strongly suggests that masks do nothing at best, and may actually increase the spread of infection at worst. This is probably why countries that haven’t imposed mask mandates do just as well or better than those that have required them.

And yet, the symbolism behind masks is significant enough for mask mandates and mask-shaming to continue. 

No one should underestimate how strong and widespread the belief in masks is. For many, they are a source of profound security. They are secure from the virus, immorality, and in the promise of societal approval. Their masks even empower them to become puritanical and judgmental. With full-throated conviction, they will blame victims of COVID-19 for not wearing masks and for lacking sufficient faith in the mask. They will insist on quarantining them and their family members for two-weeks no matter what. In most cases, it’s difficult to determine whether this is a health precaution designed to mitigate spread or a punishment for being near the virus in the first place.

Many people who are frustrated with the masking simply want to return to mask-free normality. It isn’t so simple anymore. Asking a person to take off his mask now means asking him to take off all that the masking has come to mean. Removing it means removing one’s safety, one’s sense of belonging, and one’s values.

Better get used to it, folks. Because this nonsense isn’t going away anytime soon, assuming it ever does.

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