Even Fauci, riding his fading cult into the sunset, has suggested that mask requirements should be relaxed, but then proposed that we wear masks every flu season, Hong Kong and Taiwan style. Some people won’t let go of masks though because they make them feel good.
She’s been fully vaccinated for three weeks, but Francesca, a 46-year-old professor, does not plan to abandon the face mask that she’s come to view as a kind of “invisibility cloak” just yet.
“Maybe it’s because I’m a New Yorker or maybe it’s because I always feel like I have to present my best self to the world, but it has been such a relief to feel anonymous,” she said. “It’s like having a force field around me that says ‘don’t see me’.”
Francesca is not alone. After more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic, some people – especially some women – are reluctant to give up the pieces of cloth that serve as a potent symbol of our changed reality.
Okay. There’s already a religion that offers that.
As a society we’ve fallen into a dysfunctional pattern of virtue signaling and reaction formation in which people do things for tribal reasons and other people make a point of not doing them for tribal reasons in a cycle of identarian contempt.
That’s a fancy way of saying that everything is about the culture war and nothing is about whether it’s a good idea in and of itself.
Mask adoption was about identity. The medical benefits were negligible at best. And now some people like this new identity.
“It’s a common consensus among my co-workers that we prefer not having customers see our faces,” said Becca Marshalla, 25, who works at a bookstore outside Chicago. “Oftentimes when a customer is being rude or saying off-color political things, I’m not allowed to grimace or ‘make a face’ because that will set them off. With a mask, I don’t have to smile at them or worry about keeping a neutral face.”
“I have had customers get very upset when I don’t smile at them,” she added. “I deal with anti-maskers constantly at work. They have threatened to hurt me, tried to get me fired, thrown things at me and yelled ‘fuck you’ in my face. If wearing a mask in the park separates me from them, I’m cool with that.”
There you have masks as markers of tribal identity that “separates me from them”.
You could hardly say it any more clearly than that.
Here’s another one from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s essay on tribalism in Unherd.
Some of this has its absurd side: for instance, the strange ways that public-health measures such as mask-wearing and vaccination have become politicised, to the point that I know of fully vaccinated people in California who say they will continue to wear masks for fear of being mistaken for Republicans.