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Masks: No to Groupthink on Either Side
Being unmasked makes you easier to identify.
First, I love you all, but I was a bit disappointed in the response to my last blog post on masks. As of this writing, not one person picked up on something critical I mentioned, albeit offhand, which was the ability of masks to confound AI facial recognition software. (More on this point below.)
Instead, the comments were filled with typical anti-mask rhetoric, and I was regaled to a lot of lecturing about why I shouldn’t be considerate of other people’s feelings, as this would make me a “slave” or somehow signal that I was “afraid.”
This isn’t a groupthink blog. If you want to hear someone delivering emotional schadenfreude and smug self-satisfaction in the form of cheap insults thrown at mask wearers, I’m sorry, I will disappoint you.
I have been concerned, since the start of the pandemic, that the health freedom movement has fallen into some of the same mental and emotional traps, including knee-jerk reactions, that the pro-vaccine folks are prone to. Don’t be like that. Please. It hasn’t worked and it won’t work in the future.
It’s also my opinion that the black and white rhetoric often espoused by both sides is what is tearing our civilization apart, and it’s ultimately counterproductive and will get us nowhere.
I’m not a hardliner. I never will be. It’s not in my nature, and I hope it’s why some of you are here, to read a different perspective.
How to Turn People Off, Big Time
What is our goal here? To reach hearts and minds or to start a civil war? I’m not wasting my time writing oodles of content for almost no pay just to preach to the choir. I’m hoping I might have persuaded someone along the way.
And you don’t persuade people by mocking them, calling them stupid sheeple, or cutting them out of your life over the sin of mask wearing.
Just like no pro-vaxx family member ever got you to agree with them by refusing to see you on Thanksgiving.
Early on in the pandemic, and I’ve told this story before, I was invited to join the Reopen Maryland group on Facebook. I didn’t know much about the masks pros and cons, but we were in a massive lockdown, which I thought was extremely detrimental. I felt that compromising by wearing masks was a good-faith gesture that would help get the country reopened again.
To me, it was a lot about optics – showing people you “care” by wearing a mask would help them to calm down and not see you as an enemy. Remember, we didn’t have any official treatments or even a crappy vaccine at first.
Well, a local Libertarian leader who was a moderator on that group got so pissed off at me for arguing in favor of voluntary mask-wearing, that he banned me from the group. So much for free speech! And when I asked him about it in a private message, he got really vicious and violent and basically threatened me if I ever showed up at a local Libertarian meetup.
(I’m not a Libertarian, in part because I think the party has gone off the rails, but since I don’t identify as D or R, I had considered going to a local meeting to meet some new people.)
This man got so scary that I actually contacted the state Libertarian leadership about it.
The end result is that I will now never show up at a Libertarian event locally, ever, and this idiot, through his zealous fanaticism, has basically turned me off of Libertarianism for life.
Also, because he treated me so horribly, I’m also somewhat wary of people who are 100% anti-mask and are extremely militant about it. In fact, they actually worry me. Will this person also threaten me? Maybe that’s not fair, but that’s the end result of his behavior.
So. WHY be nice to people who want to wear masks? Well, do you want to make an enemy or a friend? It’s really that simple.
I’ve made some progress with my family on the covid vaccine issues precisely because I was willing to mask up and isolate and show them through my actions that I took their health concerns seriously. They could be 100% wrong, but it’s not about that, it’s about working with people where they are at.
And zealotry is never attractive to anyone outside the in-group.
But...What About Mask Effectiveness?
Now, we can argue mask effectiveness, and I’m sorry, I’m not of the opinion that masks do nothing. Let’s not fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking.
First off, I’m not in favor of masking up kids, at all. Kids need to have their immune systems exposed to build up lifelong cross-immunity.
In other environments, I’m of the “let’s evaluate cost vs. benefit” side. For some people, wearing a mask all day might impede breathing and cause health problems. I get that. I’m also of the opinion that encouraging all day mask wearing just leads to average people reusing their dirty masks, which ends up creating a very germy environment.
But if you are sneezing up a storm and have covid, wearing even the flimsiest mask to go to the doctor would ostensibly prevent some droplet transmission, the same way covering your hand over your mouth when you sneeze does.
For people who are concerned about exposure, N95 masks have some marginal effectiveness. The problem is not the mask so much as the air leakage around the mask. I suppose the extra-zealous could duct-tape the mask to their face, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
At any rate, I don’t have a problem wearing a mask to a healthcare facility. You can call me a slave or a sheeple, but I don’t care. I’m not here to please you. I also have no issue helping other people feel safe, people who may feel vulnerable for whatever the reason.
Someone commented yesterday, “Also it's not my job to make anyone feel safe. That is a me job...mine to make myself safe. I am an adult and it's my turn to make me safe, my responsibility.”
I’m sorry, but that’s an oversimplification. I don’t feel safe driving on the road because a lot of idiots are looking at their phones and not the road. If more people would stop looking at their phones, I’d feel safer driving. Yes, I realize that’s not a direct analogy, because we can argue that masks don’t really help, and looking at the road does, but I hope you get what I’m saying.
I have to ask you, why are you so bothered at the idea that someone might want to compromise a bit and show some consideration for people who are brainwashed by the media?
Do you think my not wearing a mask is actually making some sort of grand statement that will have any impact whatsoever on legislation?
You not wearing a mask might make you feel good, but as a practical strategy for the health freedom movement, it did jack shit. Worse, the early on anti-mask rhetoric actually made people more hostile to “anti-vaxxers,” because it set up optics that made “anti-vaxxers” look like they really didn’t care about other people’s health concerns.
I don’t think the science actually backed up the instant denial of mask usage back in 2020. I don’t think the anti-mask movement was based on science at first, actually. I believe it was a knee-jerk reaction and some of it was not rational.
Some of the same people arguing against all mask use will be the first to tell the fat old guy twerking in his dirty whitey-tighties to put on some clothes at the pride parade.
Why shouldn’t people be naked on the streets? It’s not hurting you, right?
Now. Since the initial reaction against masks, we have a lot of mixed science on the issue of masks. You can go read Margaret Anna Alice’s explanation of the harms of masks here, but here is also a middle of the road study examining the benefits and failures of N95 masks with a look at improving efficacy:
N95 respirators are developed to minimize facial seal leakage through a tight fit and to prevent the inhalation of small airborne particles. Nevertheless, there is evidence of declining performance efficiency due to seal leakage of the mask; even body movements during nursing processes may increase the risk of face seal leakage. (27) Although most of the published reports claim a better performance of N95 respirators than those of traditional surgical or medical masks to protect against viral infections, (28−31) some research groups have claimed differently. In a clinical study, Radonovich et al. and Loeb et al. compared the effectiveness of N95 respirators and medical masks (or surgical masks) in preventing influenza and other viral respiratory infections among outpatient healthcare personnel (HCP) but did not find any substantial difference in the frequency of laboratory-confirmed influenza. (28,29) Many reports identified both mask types as having a range of filtration efficiencies; however, N95 masks offer better protection against particles of sizes similar to those of viruses. (32,33) Because of the lack of high-quality studies on the healthcare setup, the advocacy of mask types cannot be supported or nullified by the current evidence. That is why it appears that, during current pandemic management, many recommendations made by world-renowned organizations were conflicting and were shown to be invalid, as they were made based on limited epidemiological data on mask effectiveness against COVID-19.
But don’t tell me with a straight face masks do absolutely nothing. That’s not true. But mask efficacy also depends on where and how they are used and for how long.
To summarize my opinion on masks:
Even the crappiest paper masks protect against airborne droplets being spit at you when someone sneezes. Or when someone is a “spitter” when they talk. To be clear, you wearing the mask doesn’t protect against the spit, the spitter must be wearing the mask.
N95 masks, when properly sealed, offer some protection against airborne viruses too.
The problem with N95 masks is that the seal is not usually closed, letting in unfiltered air, which reduces efficacy.
Wearing masks all day can reduce breathing efficacy, which can have negative health impacts, especially for people with breathing issues.
Reusing masks or even just wearing the same one all day can lead to bacteria and germ buildup, which makes the mask itself a carrier of disease. Therefore, masks must be changed frequently to be safe.
Mandating mask use for everyone has serious impacts on the environment due to the amount of medical waste. And changing masks frequently, which would make them safer and more effective, would increase that environmental impact by a gazillion.
For these reasons, I’m only in “favor” of mask use for short-term application in specific situations. I do not have an issue with a healthcare provider requiring patients to mask up, provided exemptions are allowed for people who can’t handle masks. I am not in favor of mask mandates for all indoor spaces.
Once again, risk vs. benefit. Short-term N95 mask usage at a healthcare facility in the height of covid season might be helpful for an elderly person. If all it does is work as a placebo effect, that’s still a positive.
Don’t be hating on people for making that decision for themselves.
We Should Have the Right to Wear Masks
Finally, and this brings me back to the point that most people missed in my last article, we need to have the right to wear masks, in the name of privacy.
Now, AI is getting better, and they are working on AI facial recognition that can work even if you have a mask on.
But given that AI can now pick your face out of a ginormous crowd, wouldn’t you want the option of wearing a mask so you might not be identified? Say, at a large protest?
Now, let me put on my conspiracy hat and just do some wild speculation here.
What if conspiracies are real? How do they actually work?
Would they be obvious? Or would they have layers?
The thought occurred to me recently that the covid pandemic was a test run and they could have something worse cooked up, and every single psychological reaction we are having is being manipulated.
So. What if the Powers That Be actually don’t want you to be masked? What if they want you to agitate against masks?
Here’s what I wrote yesterday:
If I were to be completely conspiracy minded, I’d think that someone seeded the Internet with anti-mask paranoia during the pandemic to encourage the “patriots” to not wear them, making them easier to track with AI. But then, I’ve probably watched too much dystopian science fiction.
Hypothetically speaking, if there was a global conspiracy, then the conspirators would have looked at all the angles and potential reactions to various policies. They would have wargamed the scenario, such as with the SPARS pandemic scenario.
Now, let’s say I were trying to rule the world, and I used propaganda to do it. I would use reverse psychology on people big time.
Let’s say, I was targeting a specific group and wanted to reduce their numbers. I might set up a mindset that would help that happen. I might even go so far as to release an ineffective vaccine during a test pandemic to get people so resistant to taking vaccines, that when the really serious virus gets unleashed, they will refuse to get even a traditional vaccine.
Those resistant people would then get infected and die from the new highly deadly virus.
In the least, perhaps TPTB want people divided. And want to easily identify the people who are resistant to authoritarianism – these are the folks that aren’t wearing the masks when the next crisis comes. Easily tracked, easily eliminated.
We have some reason to believe that certain highly visible folks in the health freedom movement are actually shills and that well poisoning has been going on the entire time.
I’m not saying this is a reason to believe masks are actually the bee’s knees.
But I am saying, the focus on masks has perhaps been purposeful for a variety of reasons. In my mind, masks are a bit of a distraction. I’m also going to say that rabid anti-mask zealotry has straight up sabotaged and hurt the movement to bring attention to the dangers of mRNA/DNA vaccine technology.
Either way, even if you hate masks with a passion, you should want the right to wear them. Someday, you might be in a position where you must join a large protest and that mask might protect you from being identified and sent to jail indefinitely.
On a more mundane note, the Canadian wildfires are still going on, and that blasted smoke is drifting back over my area again. Should the air quality go back into the red and beyond, I will be using a leaky N95 mask if I need to go outside and take care of a few chores.
Masks. Not all bad.
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