I’ve been shamed for wearing a mask. Okay, people haven’t called me out, on the street, “Hey you! You’re a loser. You’re afraid!!!” But, when I scroll through my feed on Instagram or Facebook, I see too many posts accusing people who choose to wear masks of doing it because we’re afraid. And, for me, and for my husband, and for others that I speak to and know, we aren’t doing it because we’re afraid, we’re doing it because we see the importance of wearing a mask. In other words, we’re not doing it for ourselves, we’re doing it for others.
Here’s one post that I saw:
“I see people walking around in fear. Fear lowers immunity. That’s why I meditate. I know I’m healthy. If you’re healthy, you don’t need to be afraid. You don’t need to wear a mask.”
Half of that is true. Yes, anxiety lowers your immune system. Meditation is a great tool to alleviate stress. But the healthy part, not so fast. You don’t know if you’re a carrier and when you wear a mask you protect others. A new study shows, “how long speech-generated droplets can linger in the air: not cough- or sneeze-generated droplets, but plain old conversation level emissions. . . . they can stay airborne for anywhere between eight and 14 minutes. . . . But the new study’s underlying message is clear: as a safety precaution and a sign of respect to those around you, wear a mask.”
“We should go to the bank,” I say to my husband Bill. We’re walking on the beach. It’s the first time we’ve been down to Redondo since the beaches have been reopened. It’s a Thursday morning at 10:30. The beach is quiet. The way we like it. The way I like it. I have never liked a crowded beach. I don’t like it when a group plops themselves right next to me, especially when the beach is empty. That’s why I’m there, for the emptiness. The quiet. I never go to the beach on a holiday weekend. Not since I was a kid.
So, there we are, me and Bill, walking along the edge of the damp sand, avoiding the tar that washes up from the oil oozing offshore. We aren’t wearing our face coverings, as no one is around us. But if someone comes close, we’re ready to slip them back on. We don’t mind. We feel good doing our part. We don’t know if we’re carriers. We would hate to be the cause of someone else’s suffering.