One of the cardinal sins plaguing the Insta-generation is an incessant need to judge everyone for everything all the time. So much of our self-worth is derived from preemptively anticipating how other people will judge us, because we know we are under the same scrutiny we put others under. Living in this time is to be living in a social panopticon, constantly being assessed, monitored and appraised.
Perhaps this is bad. Perhaps the prevalence of judgement creates a certain rot within us. Perhaps we should be looking for ways to stifle our instincts, to be less judgemental when and where we can. Except, of course, when I see you not wearing a mask in public. You should know I’m judging you, and I don’t feel bad about it.
Just wear a mask. Okay? Seriously, it isn’t that bad.
Once-in-a-century pandemics aren’t everyday occurrences. If you can’t handle doing the bare minimum under extraordinary circumstances, then you are a big baby, and I don’t use that term lightly. In some circles, mask wearing has become a taboo associated with fear and subservience. Yet, when someone doesn’t wear a mask in public, I can only associate it with the recklessness and entitlement of infants. Just suck it up buttercup, and put a piece of cloth on your face. It’s not hard.
(Some people cannot wear masks or do not have access to them for legitimate reasons, that’s okay!)
In other countries where mask-wearing didn’t become the latest victim of a bizarre, never-ending culture war like in the United States, the spread of COVID-19 was much more contained. If everyone in our country wore masks for just a month or two, this pandemic would likely be over, and we could get back to our lives. With so much on the line, not wearing a mask doesn’t make you look rebellious or anti-authority; it makes you look dangerous and callous.
Therefore, if there was ever a time for our toxic desire to judge each other to be weaponized for the sake of good, I propose it is now. Talk bad about people who don’t want to wear their masks behind their backs! Subtweet them! Do all the reckless Mean Girls-esque shenanigans necessary to ostracize this behavior—the nation’s public health is at stake.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.