Wearing Masks and Performative Compliance

A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out who was more annoying, people who refuse to wear masks or people that don’t wear them correctly. I decided that it’s the people that don’t wear them correctly. The overtly anti-mask crowd at least have the decency to broadcast their stance. I know to avoid them. The folks wearing PPE incorrectly sometimes do wear them properly. There’s no way to tell if they had it pulled down under their nose, or under their chin, or dangling from one ear, a few minutes ago. Then I started pondering masks and performative compliance.

These are the folks that wear masks if they absolutely have to. They’re not such a confrontational asshole that they’ll start a fight every time they step into a grocery store. Maybe they still don’t get how masks work. It might be that they don’t believe in science but are also averse to confrontation. In any case, the mask goes on at the last possible moment, and comes off at the first opportunity.

Wearing Masks and Performative Compliance

I have seen this here, as mentioned in previous posts. People who put on a mask just to ride the bus, and taking it off as they’re exiting, often into a crowd at the bus station. The masks sticking out of the trash can outside my building, because they’ve made it 99% of the way home but can’t wait another minute until they get into their apartment.

Maybe performative compliance is better than complete non-compliance. I just have to wonder, though, how much better it can be when they’re exposing themselves and other people to infection. Like, I can’t imagine they’re washing their hands or taking other precautions. What other bad habits do that have, which might endanger the health of people around them?

All or Nothing

Then there are the situations where both wearing a mask and performative compliance are out the window. I see a lot of couples out and about where the woman is wearing a mask and the man isn’t. What good is that? He gets exposed, and gives it to her at home. She’s not breathing their cooties at me, but she is. They have to know. Her wearing a mask is performative, not because she cares about other people, but because she cares what other people think. So does he, because he’s being tough and macho and all that.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

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