Please people, stop being shitty human beings to one another.
And yes, this is likely to be another TL;DR post for some, but I do not really care.
Case in point: a friend of mine in Las Vegas texted me yesterday, upset.
She is a small business owner and owns a boba (bubble tea) store. She is a staunch enforcer of masks in her place of business, even before the city mandated them. She cares about her employees and patrons well-being and has made it clear to her employees there will be a zero tolerance policy regarding enforcement of her mask policy. For those who state they cannot wear masks due to a health condition, she offers curbside service to those customers.
She has worked to adjust her business to appease clients both in the mask and anti-mask crowd. So you would think people would be satisfied with these accommodations.
However, what has been made ABUNDANTLY clear is this has NOTHING to do with health conditions for many. And a legitimate excuse for those few has been pried away, distorted, and manipulated for others gain.
A man stated he could not wear a mask because of a health condition at my friend's place of business. Her employees said no problem, we offer curbside service. He stated that no, he wanted to go inside to order. They said no. He got angry and lodged a complaint with one of my friend's employees, who communicated this to her.
She spoke to him on the phone trying to explain the policy but the guy did not want to hear any of it. All he said it to her is "it's my right" to not wear a mask in her store, and she said, no, it is not. He hung up.
And then the following morning, before her shop had even opened, she heard a banging on her door. She soon found out it was the "gentleman" who she spoke to on the phone the day before, and do you know why he came by?
To tell her to "go fuck yourself."
Clearly this guy's motto is "GIVE ME BOBA, OR GIVE ME DEATH!!!" Or something like that.
I hear and read a lot of anger from those anti-mask, whether out of personal choice (argh) or who have a stated health condition preventing them from wearing a mask, directed towards those individuals who they feel harass them for not wearing one. A good friend of mine who has made the choice to not wear a mask - he knows my stance and we have had civil discussions about it - experienced this just yesterday where a person he was no-where near, admonished him publicly for not wearing a mask.
As is clearly depicted above, FEELING harassed and BEING harassed are two very different things. But regardless, neither scenario above should be acceptable.
One thing we should ALL be able to agree on: yelling at and/or harassing others, in ANY situation, is ALWAYS uncalled for because
1) NO ONE should treat others disrespectfully, and
2) it is TOTALLY INEFFECTIVE.
This does NOTHING BUT PROVOKE others to double-down on whatever may be their choice, whether it is NOT wearing a mask or for businesses to enact even stricter penalties for those who do not comply with their policies - see Delta and how they have already banned 120 passengers from flying on their airline until the pandemic is over.
Moral of the story: JUST STOP. If you are in a place of business that requires a mask and witness someone not wearing one, speak to the manager. If the business does or does not require a mask and you oppose their policies, DO NOT FREQUENT IT. If people are outdoors and not wearing a mask in proximity to you, AVOID THEM.
For those pro-mask, if you want to engage, ask politely - perhaps it slipped their mind. For those anti-mask, do not immediately react in the negative when approached.
Either way, prolonged discussions or heated arguments about mask-wearing are almost never going to be effective. And those pro-mask are just putting themselves in danger by prolonging their own exposure. People at this point have made their choice.
It is typically a lose-lose situation.
But one thing I want to address is why I never see posts from the "I cannot wear a mask because I have a health condition" crowd, if legitimate, calling out those assholes who CLEARLY DO NOT have a health condition but are bogarting a potential real excuse and delegitimizing their health concerns to many.
Well, it is pretty obvious why: BECAUSE THE MAJORITY OF THESE PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A LEGITIMATE HEALTH CONDITION AND ARE TOTALLY FULL OF SHIT.
If you are able to wear a scarf to cover your face during the winter to keep yourself warm, you can wear a mask.
If you are someone who can SCREAM at people for asking you to put on a mask and can breathe fine during and after without getting short of breath, then you most assuredly will be able to breathe with a mask on if you are just chilling the fuck out and not getting riled up.
I will admit, the excuse of a medical illness preventing the use of a mask has irked me a great deal. The number of medical reasons that TRULY make it difficult to wear a mask is VERY FEW - and the majority of those people who cannot would likely get severely ill or die if infected by COVID and should not be out in the first place. Most people who cannot breathe comfortably are likely wearing their mask incorrectly or too tightly, which is an easy fix if people just asked.
It is exhausting as a physician who has taken care of THOUSANDS of patients, MANY who are MUCH sicker than the average individual - including those with SEVERE lung disease, SEVERE heart disease, and the MORBIDLY obese - to have to continue to reiterate this point. These same patients currently wear masks while walking in our hospitals to various appointments, when coming into the OR, and even when leaving the OR after having surgery. And you know what?
They are breathing just fine. They are not collapsing around us. Post-surgery, their vital signs are fine.
But real life experience, whatever.
One of the FEW times I have seen a patient not be able to wear a mask is something we continue to fail at recognizing within our society, and something I myself did not immediately take into account:
Anxiety, with claustrophobia being a common culprit, may significantly impair an individuals ability to wear a mask.
And this, in my mind, is one of the only legitimate reasons why a person may not be able to wear a mask.
Prior to administering medications to patients in the operating room that induce general anesthesia and cause the patient to fall asleep, our standard of care is to have the patient breathe in high concentrations of oxygen via mask since anesthesia may inhibit the ability to breathe and the extra oxygen provides a buffer of safety during these apneic periods. The VAST MAJORITY of these patients exhibit either no or some discomfort with the mask. Some may state they feel like they are having a hard time breathing, but they often quickly relax once they receive reassurance.
However, a VERY SMALL minority of these patients nearly have full-blown panic attacks when I try to place a mask on them. In these cases, we sometimes need to sedate these patients with just enough medication to keep them breathing but calm them enough so we are able to place the mask on them.
Again, this is NOT a common occurrence at all, even though living with anxiety is very real for a not-insignificant percentage of the population. Evidence suggests rates of mental health disorders including anxiety are SIGNIFICANTLY higher in those who live in urban versus non-urban environments: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5374256/
But yet, those in urban/suburban areas are MUCH more likely to wear masks than those in rural areas, even though those in rural areas should be at a lower risk of anxiety and other mental health disorders, and are at higher risk of getting severely ill with COVID:
A recent example of this phenomena showing cases on the decline in cities and on the rise in rural areas is being demonstrated in Ohio:
And oh man, I feel sorry for the residents of Sturgis, SD. Anxiety levels are increasing there for sure:
So no, the vast majority of these people cannot point to "anxiety" as a legitimate medical reason to not wear a mask. And for those who lay claim to diseases that so many people LEGITIMATELY suffer from for your own personal gain, you should be ashamed for insulting and trivializing the struggle of those who must live with physical or mental disorders on a daily basis.
This post's intention was never to try and convince the anti-mask crowd to wear masks - enough has been said in that regard.
This post is to challenge those who have legitimate challenges wearing a mask to call out those who do not and undermine their legitimate reasons to not wear one.
This post is to challenge those who trivialize the physical and mental ills of others as an excuse to not wear a mask to stop doing so.
This post is to challenge those who are pro-mask to stop treating other humans like shit because this rarely is effective and is more likely to put you in harms way.
This post is meant as a reminder for both sides to stop and reflect on your own shittiness as a human-being.
Anti-mask, pro-mask, whatever - it does not matter. Your stance in this debate does not make you virtuous. Do not be a dick to those who do not wear masks. Do not be a dick to those who ask you to wear one.
Your actions, the way you treat others, are the main things that matter at this point.
So get off your high-horse. And show some damn respect and love towards your fellow human beings.
I am just so tired of all the hate.