The Psychology of Masks During COVID-19
The Psychology of Masks During COVID-19 Don’t put away those masks yet! Despite numerous re-openings, we are seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 throughout the world. Many cities are now re-closing indoor dining, bars, theaters, beaches, and other locations as a second wave of the virus pops up across the country. As mentioned in our previous blog, while the pandemic rages on, we find ourselves in various stages of grief and not only for the deceased. Many grieve life as it was before the pandemic. Right now we are in the “anger” phase. This means substance abuse, domestic violence, robberies, and other problems are coming to the fore. Another way people express anger? Rebelling against safety measures. The most obvious example of this is not wearing a facemask. One reason is that masks are a constant reminder of loss. But it’s not so simple - there are more nuanced reasons for shunning protection. We have evolved as a species to see fear - or displaying fear - as a fault. By wearing a mask we expose our vulnerability. It’s not just another reminder of the “new normal”... people actually see it as a sign of weakness. This in turn affects our self-esteem in ways that we internalize, leading to resistance. Then there’s concern about losing freedoms. The freedom to not wear a mask. The freedom to congregate in large numbers. The freedom to see a movie in a theater. Masks may be interpreted as a symbol for reduced freedoms, and some people react by foregoing them. Regardless of the reason, ditching the mask is not a good idea. Covid-19 is ten times more catchier than the common cold, and exhaled moisture from our bodies is a big culprit in spreading infection. So please remember:
- Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of solidarity with our more vulnerable populations.
- Wearing a mask will help control the virus so we can have more freedoms sooner by working together to stop the spread.
- Don’t let cognitive dissonance win out. If you know wearing a mask is the right thing to do but have reservations, please choose the mask. It is a sign of strength and commitment to public safety, not fear.