An armchair analysis as to why people don’t wear masks during a pandemic

Jacob Yi, Staff Writer

Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and an inconvenience. It interferes with airflow and becomes incredibly distracting when the strings that attach them to the back of the ears become too tight. However, the discomfort does not stop there. For people with glasses, an exhale will result in fog, making it difficult to see. During the summer months, especially, the extra hot air circulating within the mask made it almost unbearable to wear.

These are all valid reasons to not wear a mask when going out in public or meeting with others. Doctors and nurses are encouraged to wear them in the hospital because they face patients with diseases and illnesses, but not the general public. Yet, due to Covid-19 this year, that same advice has to be applied everywhere as the virus is not limited to only medical centers.

On July 4, the US exhibited its failure as a country to practice basic hygiene and care for others. While mathematics may have taught the probability of young people dying from Covid-19, the education system failed in teaching the younger generation how to practice empathy and intuition.

As a relatively young person like myself, the chance of me dying from Covid is lower compared to the elderly, newborns, and those with compromised immune systems. So what is the harm of going to the beach on a national holiday?

The younger generation having fun in the sun connotes a symbol of youthfulness and hope for the future. That is, in the case where doing just that will not result in the loss of thousands of lives. Not everyone is at a stage in life in which their immune systems will be able to fight off the virus.

In the quieter neighborhoods, where Covid has not reached as many, some begin to doubt the existence of the virus itself. Otherwise known as egocentric bias, one’s own opinions are placed higher than reality. While the nearest hospital may not have held any Covid cases recently, this does not detract from the millions of cases that have popped up in the other 57,308,738 square miles of Earth that exist. Instead of being thankful that their friends or family members are infected, people assume that it does not exist.

Beyond the neighborhood, the Internet itself holds much information that may be interpreted in the wrong way. Despite the millions of articles that state the efficacy of masks and decades of masks preventing diseases, there will be people who look at that blog post on the 7th page of Google search stating that masks are useless. Such is the case with confirmation bias, in which people only look for information that agrees with their own beliefs and ignore the ones that confirm the opposite.

So instead of wearing anything to prevent an airborne virus from reaching one’s lungs, people have approached the pandemic with a regressionist approach. Why wear a mask when one can wear nothing?

Being pessimistic is perfectly acceptable, but when that perspective on life leads to the endangerment of the lives of others, then it becomes a problem, especially when thousands of lives are lost each day due to this behavior.

The quotes, “I don’t wear a mask in public, and I’m still fine” or “It won’t happen to me” has become the two most dangerous things anyone can say during this pandemic. The optimism bias, where one believes that harm will not come their way, may work when the town is self-isolated and has a population of ten people, but such is not the case. People will get infected, and people will suffer from the consequences.

Throughout the pandemic, the idea of wearing a mask as a safety measure has become increasingly political. Some have compared the notion of wearing a mask akin to the government violating the rights of US citizens. Frankly, many are fighting to become more unhygienic and convey more toxic individualism, which is the exact opposite of what a society should strive for.

For any functioning person, the comparison between wearing a mask to the disruption of rights would seem too far-fetching. The real issue, in this case, is not because of the government’s increasing control, but because masks are uncomfortable to wear.

In the 1980s, people expressed similar sentiments towards seatbelts, also considering it an overextension of the governmental powers over the people. The US, as it seems, has had its fair share of disliking their safety. I, personally, would rather be stuck in the car than to fling 60 feet up into the air because I didn’t wear a polyester strap over my shoulder. On a similar note, I’d rather have my glasses fog up temporarily than to contact a viral disease that has single-handedly ruined millions of lives throughout this entire year.

Every country, every person, is facing hardships, grief, and the altercation of daily livelihood. It is no question that everyone wants life to become the way it was before the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet, there are people out there who prefer to care for themselves, and not for the benefit of society.