Last week, the former Major League Baseball player Aubrey Huff announced on Twitter that he was no longer going to wear a mask inside any business. “It’s unconstitutional to enforce,” he wrote. “Let’s make this bullshit stop now! Who’s with me?” In a video that went viral the following day, he said his critics “had tried to shame him for threatening the lives of millions of innocent people”. He went on to insist that he considered dying from the Coronavirus over “wearing a damn mask.” From the machos who think a mask isn’t great for their ego, to the President of the United States who has been vocal about why a mask won’t help, masks have been shamed many-a-time. If you’ve got friends who refuse to wear a mask during the pandemic, it can be a bummer.
Dealing with friends who refuse to wear a mask during the pandemic
You’d think the publicity that the Coronavirus has received, would serve as a warning to not step out of the home without a mask. Science has proved it, hell even Trump has resorted to wearing masks of late, but for some, the severity of the situation is just difficult to fathom. There are the usual excuses: glasses fogging up, stubborn pride, a ‘don’t care attitude’ and the all-time favourite ‘I’m not comfortable’. Whilst the common urge is to scream at the very next person you see without a mask, well, that might not be the best option. While it might seem frustrating that some cannot just fathom the seriousness of the infection, there are other ways to deal with them.
Medical experts have been stressing on the absolute urgency to wear a mask while stepping out. Mounting death statistics and the sheer frightening news reports should be enough to send someone buying dozens of these. However, the real deal is wearing them. So if your hangout sesh has that one friend who refuses to wear a mask during the pandemic, here's how you deal with it.
Shaming doesn’t work
If you were planning on resorting to the good old ‘Oh! Don’t you care? What is this behaviour?’ retort, don’t try it. It rarely ever works. Here’s an example. In the early years of AIDS, gay men were in a fix. While they desperately didn’t want to abstain from sex, they couldn’t risk contracting the virus. Thus was the advent of condoms. However, shaming gays into wearing condoms wouldn’t work. The guy would have to realise the risk of contracting AIDS himself and actually resort to wearing one.
Same is in the case of masks. While it can be hard dealing with friends who refuse to wear a mask during the pandemic, shaming won’t work. The person needs to ‘want’ to wear a mask, after assessing the dangers himself. So instead of lecturing your buddy, try having a conversation centred around your reactions rather than their actions. Daryl Appleton, Ed.D., a New York-based psychotherapist says “Using 'I statement' helps to keep the conversation in an assertive tone while keeping the focus on finding a solution. Things like 'I’m not ready for hugs yet, but I am so happy to see you' or 'it would really make me feel better if you had your mask on or if we could continue this conversation at a further distance' are both examples of assertive ways to voice your feelings regarding social distancing."
A dealbreaker will help if you’ve got friends who refuse to wear a mask during the pandemic. If you know your friend isn’t gonna wear a mask, no matter what you do or say, it’s time you set some ground rules. If the person is from a red zone or has recently had a family member test positive for the Coronavirus, that could be your dealbreaker. While this may seem unfair, well, not wearing a mask isn’t all that rational either.
By setting these rules, you will be well aware of the risks you are taking by coming in contact with this friend of yours. It all boils down to what makes you comfortable. This might even compel your friend to actually wear a mask during the pandemic, just for the sake of being able to hangout.
Keep that 6 feet distance!
Experts have pointed out how important social distancing is. While you may crave to have that kiss or hug or even just be in close proximity to the people you love, the distance can be frustrating. If you’re hanging out in a group where some just hate the mask ordeal, the 6 feet gap is a non-negotiable rule! The Coronavirus is viable in aerosols and can remain in this state for up to 3 hours. The 6 feet gap thus acts like your personal roadblock to stop the transmission of the virus.
Some people (as you will see) have their ideologies for ditching the mask. Dr Michael Richardson, a family physician at One Medical, agrees that coming from a place of empathy is often far more effective at helping people adopt healthier habits. This approach focusses on asking the other person why they would rather go without a face cover at such times. Prodding the reason behind your friend’s behaviour of not wearing a mask during the pandemic, helps build trust and also convinces them they aren’t being judged.
Your friend may just have some pre-conceived notions that could range from ‘wearing a mask is a sign of weakness’ (it’s not) to ‘I’m not a wimp, you know?’.
Do not take it personally
Often times we take it to heart. “Oh if he isn’t wearing a mask, he doesn’t care about me.” However, there is no personal intent here. Since the pandemic struck, everyone has formed their own ideals, that are supported by media reports, behaviours they’ve witnessed and more. Thus, if you want to go about changing these habits and replacing them with better ones, all you’ve got to do is let the other know. It’s up to them to take an informed call and choose right.