I learned a new (for me) term the other day: “Virtue Signaling.” Virtue Signaling is defined by Urban Dictionary as “To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.”
This is the term for how I see the attitudes of some people regarding the wearing or not wearing of face coverings. To be clear, I am not questioning or judging the efficacy of masks, nor am I suggesting that they should or should not be worn or required. In my opinion it is personal choice, and I acknowledge that there are times and places where they should probably be used. There are countries and cultures where everyone wears a mask during flu season and during other times. In those places it is normal and expected, and done without an air of superiority or inference of inferiority.
I am instead referring to the outwardly superior attitudes of many who wear a mask and then frown on those who have chosen to not wear them, and also to the opposite experiences of those who have chosen to wear a mask, only to be ridiculed by those who have chosen to not wear one. I haven’t experienced it personally but have read and heard about it happening to others.
The bandwagon chant of the pro-maskers suggests that not wearing a mask displays a disregard for others, and that wearing a mask signifies a compassionate person looking out for his/her fellow man. But the choice of whether to wear a mask or not is just one symbol. We were all supposed to be staying home during the last several months. Kathy & I have mostly stayed home, while others we know gas-butt around town like nothing has changed. Does wearing a mask make that OK? I feel like we have done more to protect others by staying home and minding our own business, mask or not, than those who have gone to the grocery store or the takeout restaurants every day, sometimes multiple times a day. By comparison, we’ve hardly been anywhere to get exposed to the virus.
Kathy & I have masks but so far have not worn them. It is our hope that we will never need to wear them. If we go to a place that requires them, we will make a choice. If it is important enough we will wear them. If not, we will go somewhere else or do without. I see it as a matter of our choice based on our own perceived level of risk – both of exposing ourselves and of exposing others. Other than that we will keep our mouths shut and mind our own business, and hope that others will do the same.