Do you wear a mask when you go into grocery stores? How about when you’re in public places such as outdoor parks and recreational areas? 

Whether you answered yes or no, it is likely that your decision to mask or not is seen by some as a political statement. 

The year 2020 will be one that each of us will reflect on for decades to come; we will remember what we were doing during this time in life, how old we were and of course, all the sacrifices and changes we witnessed when Covid-19 arrived. 

In ten years, it will be fascinating to think back on the political climate of this time. By then we will have the 30,000-mile, crystal clear vision that we lack right now, as we are living life with the threat of Covid-19 every day. Has the pandemic made us brittle? Has it exposed our intolerances to other ways of thinking? It certainly has. The judgments we cast on one another about masking are evidence of that emotional fragility. We are scared, angry, reluctant, and belligerent. These feelings are seen on both sides of the political aisle. 

Why Are Masks Dividing Us?

There are a lot of theories about how people decide whether or not to wear a mask, but it seems as if many of these differences lie in the interpretation of what masking means, whether it helps and people’s understanding of how Covid-19 is spread. 

People who tend not to wear masks are skeptical of the idea that the virus is a real problem. Many of them feel as though the pandemic is being exaggerated by liberal media platforms and being used as a political tool. 

Those who do wear masks tend to be more liberal politically and are more likely to believe the media reports about the virus, its severity, and the need to wear a mask to avoid transmission. 

Younger people are less likely to mask up, which isn’t a surprise since, developmentally, younger people are not contemplating their mortality as much as older people do, and don’t feel as vulnerable to serious illness. Young people who choose not to mask may also be at a phase of life in which they feel invincible and have not yet faced devastating losses that often come later in life. 

Whether you are a regular mask-wearer or one who abstains, you are probably making judgments about the choices of others. The truth is none of us fully understand the reasons others make the choices they do; sometimes it is difficult to determine our own rationale for certain behaviors. We are all accountable for our choices and the decisions we make in daily life. 

If we are making decisions based on our values, that is all anyone can ask of us. We would be best served to work together rather than maintaining this divide. With any luck, the near future will offer a vaccine that will help return our lives to a semi-normal, pre-Covid state. Until then, we should treat each other with kindness and love, regardless of who wears a mask and who doesn’t. 


  • Dr. Teyhou Smyth

    Performance Coach, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Keynote Speaker, Licensed Therapist (#115137)

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