Is The U.S. Really Fighting Over Masks?

Is The U.S. Really Fighting Over Masks?
Photo: Olivier DOULIERY / AFP, Getty Images

As far as I can tell from my daily walks, masks have quietly become more common over the last month or two. Some people wear them, some don’t, and we all cross the street to avoid each other anyway. But now that rules in some places are requiring masks, social media seems to have blown up with people arguing over them. Is that happening in real life, too?

On the one hand, there are the people flouting mask rules and spoiling for a fight. This guy in a cheesecloth mask labelled “placebo,” for instance. This woman arguing that she should be able to enter a store maskless, against store policy. Some confrontations have turned tragically violent.

There’s something human (maybe just American?) in wanting to get mad at people about what they’re doing. Mask shaming has become a thing—yelling at somebody that they should wear a mask. Maybe the person has a dumb reason for not wearing a mask, like the folks above, but some people can’t wear them due to health conditions. (You can’t necessarily tell from looking at somebody which category they fall into, and it doesn’t help that some of the shouty folks use a probably-disingenuous claim about a health condition to attempt to skirt the rules.)

The point of wearing a mask in public is to protect others, and we’d probably all be safer if mask wearing were more common. But making a big deal about mask policy is probably doing more to solidify masks as a political wedge issue than to meaningfully bolster anybody’s health or freedom.

So I’m curious how you’re seeing the mask issue play out. Are all your friends fighting over masks? Is it an issue when you go shopping? Or are we all dealing with this situation better than social media and news reports would suggest?

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