When It Comes to Face Masks, I Say Live and Let Live

I see them on buses. I see them in shopping malls. Just the other day, one of them passed right by me as I was browsing the produce section at my local grocery store. They’re still out there, going to work, raising their families, and participating in society — and I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon.

I’m talking, of course, about the many people who still wear face masks.

When I see them going about their day, it neither disappoints me nor infuriates me. In fact, it doesn’t make me feel any negative feelings at all. Why would it? I’m not some nosy, egotistical asshole who purports to know what’s best for everyone else, nor do I gain any satisfaction from shaming those who have chosen to live more cautiously than I.

Heck, I don’t even know anything about these people. Maybe some of them are immunocompromised and following their doctor’s advice. Maybe some of them just have a tough time ditching old habits. Or maybe some of them are struggling with mental illness. I can certainly relate to that. More than a decade ago, my obsessive-compulsive disorder transformed me into something of a hypochondriac. So I get it. I totally understand why some of my mentally ill compatriots might be hesitant to put their masks away for good.

In any case, who am I to judge?

Or perhaps the better question is, what is there to judge?

Your mask tells me nothing meaningful about you. It doesn’t tell me anything about your personality, work ethic, intelligence, or moral code. It doesn’t give me any hints about what you do for a living, what kind of sense of humor you have, or whether you’re a good parent to your children. It is an absolutely useless measure of your character, and I’d have to be among the most irrational people in the world to believe otherwise.

So, to those of you who continue to don a mask whenever you’re out in public, I offer you my respect — my respect for your choice to keep wearing a mask, as well as my respect for your right to make that choice for yourself. And remember that no matter how long you continue to wear that mask, you do not have to justify yourself to anyone. Just keep on doing you, and pay your meddlesome critics no mind.

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D.A. Kirk

D.A. Kirk

Outer space enthusiast. Japanese history junkie. I write about politics, culture, and mental illness. Disagreement is a precursor to progress.