Masked Man 2020-07-19
I have been rather enjoying wearing a mask outside ever since the bad times began. All the way back in Feb or maybe March, I forget which, time seems more broken than usual, I was improvising by looping a scarf several times around my lower face. I own, and enjoy a lot of scarves, and the weather back then was fairly amenable to swaddling one's entire head in designer fabrics.
Subsequently, as we set in for the long haul, my much cleverer partner ordered the whole family some reusable ones, from Deakin and Blue. Easier to fit, and more effective, and I switched over to this. It's swimwear fabric, basically a speedo for your lower face, and I've been lining it with one sheet of kitchen roll, square folded, which is comfortable enough, and gives a few layers of filtering. The mask is reversible, patterned on one side and black on the other, but I always wear the black side out. I think they other side is floral, but I'm not even sure of that.
I realised I find it fun to wear. It feels like wearing a disguise. Another layer of private bubble on the roam, an extra shield to accompany the earbuds. Thinking about it, so many of my childhood heroes were masked. I think I'm quite into masks. We had the lone ranger and Zorro on the telly, alongside Batman and Robin. Robin Hood had a hood, of course. I remember trying to figure out how Spider-Man could even see through his striking mask design, and how I might some day figure out how to make one. Masks are just cool. Under normal circumstances I'd feel a bit weird wearing one everywhere, and I think it would provoke suspicion, but currently I can prowl around looking like a plank, but imagining I'm a badass. It's nice to have found some minor positive thing emerging out of all the drama of pandemic season. I should probably invest in more masks, get some more interesting colour going on.
Something I'm enjoying far less is any tone of dedicated anti-mask rhetoric, examples of which do seem to be floating around my internet. I find it very hard to understand. Not quite as hard to understand as the mobile phone mast burning, but still. Even if you don't find obscuring your face as childishly gleeful as I do, I don't know why you'd want to make a stand about not wearing one. Even if I assume the conversations on social media are distorted, and amplifying extreme minority views, as they usually do, even when I'm out and about I think I'm probably seeing less than 1% of people wearing them, (although I've not counted properly). This seems a shame. Especially given that I'm living in the eighth ranked hotspot on that leaked sheet of areas for concern(!).
It seems pretty obvious to me that even a very imperfect mask will still impart some reduction of transmission, and it's a numbers game we're currently in. The cumulative benefit of lots of small reductions everywhere are still a useful contribution. Most of the rhetoric I've seen in both directions seems more focused on the individual, arguing that they don't filter much out, or it's some kind of curious affront to personal freedom, or urging people to think of campaigning for it like a seat-belt or an airbag for a car. This perspective is almost entirely wrong. A mask is not something to wear for personal protection, it's something small you can do to help everyone else, that is most effective when everyone else is also doing it.
I realise we live firmly in the age of the self, but I do remain confused how a country that passionately adopted the weekly ritual doorstep clap nation-wide, in a matter of weeks, is less keen to rush into this, arguably more useful, performance piece. I wonder what the missing mechanism is, if it's messaging, or psychology, or something more profound and deeply entrenched.
Still, I have my fun, and don't really plan to stop any time soon. I have been wondering about getting some sequins in, or if I could get some custom patterns ordered. I guess if this all goes on long enough we'll see redbubble and stickermule and the others adding masks to their standard merch templates.