Coronavirus face masks: what's your style?
Updated: May 27, 2020
Substantial medical opinion is of the view that conventional Coronavirus face masks of the kind we increasingly see in public are almost totally worthless. That is because the breath is only one of a plethora of means by which Coronavirus can be transmitted between individuals. Other methods include any form of physical contact whatsoever; mutual touching of any common objects (door knobs, seats, cutlery, crockery, surfaces made of plastic wood or metal in any environment whatsoever), and the mere breathing of infected air. Face masks don't stop you breathing, and the varieties available to the general public don't effectively filter out contagious particles.
Nevertheless in the face of the fact that nobody has a better idea how to reduce risks of transmission, other than total lockdown (which cannot be afforded), the wearing of face masks is now starting to acquire religious-liturgical qualities. Despite being very uncomfortable, they are worn as symbols of faith, much like crosses around the necks of Christian martyrs being fed to the wild animals by the Romans.
The theory propounded is that face masks are items of selflessness: by wearing one when in public, one reduces the risk of transmission from the wearer to a third party. Again this is grossly fallacious; the vast majority of people wearing face masks don't have active and contagious Coronavirus, and therefore there is nothing to transmit. But, like religious symbolism, adherence to an orthodoxy reassures us in these troubling times.
With those thoughts in mind about face masks as totems, the Paladins bring you, in a tongue-in-cheek way, some of the styles of mask available to you to show your public allegiance to the true faith of collective effort in avoiding disease. You too can and will look as foolish as the people in these snapshots.
If face masks are absurd, then let us be reassured that human ingenuity is even more so. The face mask trend will move from imagined medical necessity through to fashion accessory, fetish item, expression of rebellion and instrument to hide one's anxieties. Clothing and fashion have occupied all these roles throughout history. Let us celebrate face masks, letting them serve all these functions. But listen with scepticism to those who tell you the reason to wear them is to avoid getting sick. They are far more fun than that; their adoption represents an intriguing example of the propensity of humankind towards collective ritual, no matter how preposterous.
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