Someone on a Facebook page I belong to posted a question, asking members how we’re doing with the newly reinstated covid-19 mask guidelines. Most people showed a lot of sense and said they are following the new guidelines. But one woman — we’ll call her Jennifer — said she will not follow the guidelines, because she’s vaccinated, so there’s almost no chance of her getting covid anyway. She said that it’s not relevant that she could spread it to other people, because vaccinated people won’t get it, that any children she gave it to would not die from it, and that she’s past caring about antivaxxers getting it. She said her mental health is a higher priority than the pandemic, and that her mental health will suffer if she has to wear a mask any longer.
Another person — we’ll call her Sharon — responded to Jennifer, pointing out that vaccinated people can still get covid, and that she herself does not want to get it at all, not even a mild case, so she is continuing to mask up. I chimed in to agree with Sharon, saying I am wearing a mask because I do not want to get a mild case either, and that I do not want to spread it to anyone else.
That’s all I said. I did not tell anyone else what they should do; I just said what I am doing and why. Jennifer lit into me for it. She keeps repeating that the chance of her getting covid at all is infinitesimal (that’s not what the data says) so she’s not hurting anyone by not wearing a mask, and that she prioritizes her mental health above public health.
When I reminded her that I never told her she should wear a mask; I just said that I am wearing one, she implied that I am harming her by wearing a mask, because people like me are the reason why the authorities are keeping in place restrictions that are bad for her mental health. So now she’s twisting reality so that people who wear masks are the menace.
I eventually did ask Jennifer to please wear a mask when she’s going to be around other people, so I guess I lost my “I’m not telling you what to do; I’m just saying what I’m doing” high ground.
She also said she used to work as some kind of editor in the medical field, so she knows that the epidemiologists at the CDC don’t really mean it when they say we should be wearing masks. Huh?
When I said I feel that it’s up to all of us to protect those who cannot get vaccinated, or who can’t be helped by the vaccine, she said it’s not her responsibility. She claimed that no children are at risk for serious complications (apparently never having heard of covid-induced Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome; I sent her a link). And she said that those who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons should be looking out for themselves. The more she went on, the more startled I was at her complete lack of empathy and accountability.
I don’t know if this woman has real mental health issues that are being exacerbated by the lockdown, or if she’s just weary of this pandemic, like the rest of us. Personally, I think the knowledge that I am not doing everything I can to keep myself and others from getting a serious illness would be harder on my mental health than putting on a mask. If she does have real issues, I feel bad for her. But I do not believe that the solution is to ignore public health guidelines and risk exposing myself and others to the virus.
Next time, remind me not to engage with these people.