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For some, diligence against Covid-19 remains an expression of political identity (theatlantic.com)
51 points by seriousquestion 5 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

This mentality is just foreign to me. If you're that scared stay locked down, no one is forcing you to go out. There's a weird authoritarianism to wanting to control other people from going back to regular life.

The biggest battle is public schools, which are about as intrinsically authoritarian as can be. When schools reopen, then barring drastic measures (which by definition most people won't take), people are forced to send their kids back.

There's no data backing large spread of covid due to schools being open, in the data says it's the opposite. k-12 students are also less likely to get it and less likely to develop any complications from it.

Additionally, there are several issues with leaving kids at home and in many cases it causes more problems than sending them back.

Lastly, they are not "forced" to send their kids back, they have alternatives. Admittedly, the alternatives may require a difficult life change (homeschool, private, moving etc.) but if they're already making the decision that it's better their kids stay home then they should be making some sacrifices to ensure they're receiving appropriate education. I can tell you they are not receiving a good education through online classes, or at least drastically worse than in person. Average kids k-12 age lack the ability to motivate themselves when left alone at home and there's data backing this up. It's also bad for their mental health.

I think there is a subset of people who need to feel that something else is fully in control of their lives, be it government, health standards, or whatever. It’s almost like they want to give up independence and self-governing to something greater.

Is this not different than religion? There's certainly comfort in placing your life in someone else's hands. It takes that pressure away and you can just throw your hands in the air exclaiming you can't do a thing about it. I understand the allure... but what really bothers me is that those same people try to to the force their cultish/religious behaviors onto everyone else.

You're totally right. This mentality is religious.

as the world gets more secular, this is the inevitable result. the basic human need for these things doesnt go away, and it just manifests in strange new ways

I believe that many people _do_ want to give up independence and self-governing because it also means eschewing responsibility and accountability. It's easier to always throw blame on something else and demand someone else to fix it, than to accept that we all have our own flaws and weaknesses and that we often have to work to get where we want to.

> Hetherington found that the very liberal participants in his survey tended to be the most neurotic.

I would expect that measurement to rise on both extremes. If you think that there is something very wrong with the status quo it is quite natural that you will be more stressed, have more anxiety, and tend to be more neurotic. Not that there aren't very stable, serene, salt of the earth types on all sides, just that the worriers will be more common the further their preferred reality diverges from the actual one.

Or the causality might be reversed. Neuroticism may attract people to extreme ideologies.

Imagine flagging this and just proving the point of the article.

I tend to agree with the down thread sentiment that to some greater or lesser degree both masking and non-masking are political sentiments as much as anything.

What I wonder about is how that came to be - and how that outcome can be avoided in the future.

I can see why this happens if there's a policy that helps some and hurts others to greater and lesser degrees; so people might support or oppose it.

Other policies have a snowball like quality about them - where once some amount of support or opposition arises they attract more of the same because of coalition logic. I support X and Z because I care about them. I support Y because the supporters and Y also care about X and Z.

The first case is reasonable enough but the second one is toxic; not just because people will go against their interests (not in the sense of things that are good for them but things that they do not support) but because no one will ever admit to others and generally not to themselves about just why they support a policy.

Something of a misframing here? The issue is not masking/non-masking but mandatory masking or not (I don't believe I've ever heard of advocates for banning masking by those so inclined). And I don't see how person A telling person B what they must wear can be anything but political, see North Korea's "permitted haircuts for men" for example.

> What I wonder about is how that came to be

Social identity is a big one, and insofar as social media dispenses with the subtle social cues that we rely on to communicate and emote, I think we're stuck with this if we're going to rely heavily on public communication devoid of facial expression.

Also it's somewhat obvious that a certain side of the political spectrum has an obsession with literal enumeration. I'd be interested to see if there's a conservative parallel to the growing list that so many feel obligated to put forth: pronouns, vaccination status, race, political identity, gender, sex, romance orientation, mask-affinity, mental health identity, astrological sign, etc.

As a qualifier, I say this as a gay guy who's often in queer social circles and it seems to me not only pathological but cognitively dissonant: in a sphere that claims that labels and normativity are bad, they then go on making an ever-growing list of definitions of existence. None of this is pleasurable - it's robotic and authoritative. There is an obsession with definition instead of just living their lives and embracing the ineffable and infinitely complex nature of life.

Wearing a mask is a common sense mitigation for respiratory diseases. The politicization occurred due to political hacks capitalizing on the burden of changing conditions/consensus to preach a message of conspiracy and irresponsibility.

Freedom relies on distributed intelligence and responsibility. Without that, we either get authoritarianism or a failed society. Politically, I want to live in a society without mask mandates because everybody wears one in their own self interest. Apparently we need a lot more critical thinking to be at that point, and so authoritarianism steps in.

Furthermore, a lot of the authoritarianism hasn't been actual mandates - for instance, there have been no "lockdowns" apart from CA early on. The same lack of critical thinking causes people to perceive government recommendations as mandatory, ultimately resolving the ambiguity in a productive manner.

Counter to a lot of the sentiment in this thread, I think it's pretty obvious that a different set of ethical beliefs would result in advocating for a totally different set of policies and that's how it should be. If even a single covid death is unacceptable to you (something I've heard expressed by a couple folks on the far left), then it's pretty obvious that advocating for continued caution is the right answer.

That said, obviously economic distress, depression and other factors are taking years off of people's lives too, any reasonable viewpoint must accept some level of tradeoff here.

One factoid that was shared with me at the beginning of this mess is:

Humans are REALLY bad at responding to highly unlikely events.

We see this in the pandemic: Someone MIGHT die -> respond out of fear

I will CERTAINLY not die -> push for "freedom"

We saw this with past calamities: twin towers -> hunt down the terrorists

Great Recession (and Great Depression). Even personal trauma has an impact (personal job loss or a friend with cancer).

I, personally, advocate for COMPASSION as I see people on both sides of the pandemic get buffeted back and forth by their emotions. Acknowledge that they are in a hard spot; they are gripped by fear, guilt, loneliness. People from every background are getting ripped up because of the uncertainty of how to respond to the pandemic.

So I ask all of HN: The next time you see someone with a "crazy" opinion of the pandemic, be patient and show them love. Their life is probably hard enough, and they might need a friend.

> I, personally, advocate for COMPASSION

Sadly this is getting rarer every day. Nobody wants to show anybody else compassion, and people of every background are guilty of this.

I have long suspected that masking is a political identity symbol, especially when it's seen so frequently in situations where it doesn't make sense: Driving alone in one's car, walking in an area where one wouldn't encounter others, while swimming [1], etc.

1. https://twitter.com/PrisonPlanet/status/1382601023441793026

Sometimes it's just easier to keep the mask on when walking between places. Personally, I have longish hair so it's kind of a pain to don/doff if I'm out and about. So I'll wear it in the car sometimes.

Seems like a lot of folks assume intent in people's actions, maybe because it's easier to make fun of others or push a certain narrative. No, I don't think Covid is going to get me in my car or when I'm walking outside away from people—I'd just rather keep my mask on because it's annoying to fiddle with.

Taking it off and letting it dry out can prevent the bacterial growth and undesirable consequences associated with wearing one for long periods, mask mouth being the most obvious example, with various forms of upper and lower respiratory infections also a serious risk:


Sure, but for the short periods of time I could potentially have my mask off for, I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make— I am generally not wearing my mask for longer than an hour or two.

Just a note, the article you linked doesn't seem to mention how long is too long to wear a mask if you want to prevent mask mouth, etc.. Maybe I missed it.

There are reasons why I would mask in a vehicle: expecting passengers, returning from shared spaces and want to prevent hand-face contact.

I've puzzled about outdoor use, but I'm not getting off my bike to ask anybody. Best guess is they're subject to early (mis-)information about virus spread or they're at risk and taking all precautions. They may have allergies and are just avoiding pollen. What should I do about it? I did some extra research and confirmed wearing a mask outdoors probably isn't beneficial to myself or others so I don't. There is no harm from them choosing to wear one.

It's a practical tool to prevent spread of a respiratory virus. Trying to ascribe political motivations to every non-sensical example of mask wearing probably says more about your concerns than whatever motivated them to wear a mask.

A highly visible fashion accessory that could "save lives", the virtue signaling opportunities were irresistible to oversocialized types.

Same as unmasking

That's hard to claim since being without a mask is normal. Anecdotally, I don't see videos of unmasked people berating masked individuals about they're disgusting evil people.

Then you're not looking very hard. I've seen plenty.

I agree with the first part of your point, but anecdotally and from personal experience I’ve twice been berated for wearing a mask out in the open (this was in the Netherlands). Wearing the mask in open spaces is not even something I often do, but it was clear that it does carry political meaning on both ends of the spectrum, specially considering that the first of those two times, I was also asked to go back to the country I’m from.

Tucker Carlson went on an insane tirade two days ago telling his viewers to start harassing masked people--including calling CPS and the police for 'child abuse' of masked children.. It'll happen soon enough if it already isn't.

And why do you think he did that? It's a defensive response to the opposite spectrum where people have actually been arrested for not wearing masks and had their businesses raided/shutdown by government officials, thrown off airlines because their 2 year old won't keep a mask on etc.

Putting an apparatus on a child that restricts their breathing when they don't understand the reasoning really is akin to child abuse. It's a completely unnatural thing to do. I don't agree that these parents should be jailed, just as it's not appropriate to be jailing people for not wearing masks. He's getting a message across that it's not appropriate to be doing this to children.

Wearing clothing is also "completely unnatural", and yet we make everyone do it as part of existing in polite society. Even 2 year olds.

How does clothing harm a child? What fear response is produced from putting clothes on a child? I mentioned unnatural in the sense that restricting your breathing creates an appropriate innate fear response because it indicates death might imminent just like pain. Now, explain to me how you make a 2 year old understand why you're partially smothering them for a virus that has extremely low chances of doing ANY damage to them. That IS psychological abuse imo.

Clothes also unnaturally restrict movement and make one feel constrained. Hence there being a spectrum of comfort from formal/workwear to sweatpants/pajamas, and jokes about working from home with no pants. Children don't react against wearing clothes (as much) because they've become accustomed to wearing them, and nobody says that a child taking their pants off in the middle of the grocery store demonstrates "psychological abuse".

When a child can't emotionally handle wearing a mask, they're likely taking a cue from their parent reacting similarly. And nobody is getting "thrown off airlines" because their child took off a mask as they worked to get it back on - they're likely refusing to keep control of their child, or throwing a tantrum right along with them.

I've seen too many histrionic comments saying masks make it "hard to breathe" to take any of them seriously. Plenty of trades wear masks for hours at a time - eg surgeons, construction, auto body. That narrative ignores the benefits of wearing a mask, while blowing the burden out of proportion. Anything can be made to seem prohibitively burdensome when one shirks personal responsibility.

When I go for a walk outside I wear a mask, because I have seasonal allergies and tree pollen is high here in Massachusetts.

I've been vaccinated, (just got my second shot, so two weeks to go...), but I'll be wearing a mask indoors for probably the next year or so. Unless we start doing things like verifying vaccination or tests for entry to indoor public venues, it's the only thing that makes sense to keep my family safe.

I hate that wearing a mask became politicized. My own opinion is that the reason it did was that the government knowingly decided to lie about the efficacy of wearing a mask in the early days of the pandemic in the U.S. The reason for the lie was because there was insufficient supply of masks, and they didn't trust the public not to buy them off the shelves (which happened anyway), or panic (people got angry and polarized instead).

The CDC and the government agencies communicating policy were not in the business of getting the truth out so people could take sensible precautions. They focused on control and tactical preservation of opinion and the election couldn't have come at a worse time. That focus on control became obvious and they lost the public trust. Everything else spun out on social media with people taking sides instead of talking evidence.

It was truly depressing to watch.

> I have long suspected that masking is a political identity symbol

What do you mean, people fancy looking like a surgeon?


Please don't take HN threads further into flamewar.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27038051.

Edit: between this and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27038206 and the rest of your recent account history, it's clear that you're using the site primarily for political/ideological battle. That's not allowed here, regardless of what politics/ideology you're battling for, because it destroys this place for its intended use. I've therefore banned the account.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future. They're here: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Both recent administrations patted themselves on the back for the stimulus checks, which were smaller and arrived later than they should have. I don't think you have to worry about people depending on them long-term. And even if they did, so what?

And I dunno what your last sentence is supposed to be if not a vague gesture at some conspiracy theory. Yeah, another pandemic might happen in the future. Do you have actual evidence that shows the US government is purposefully facilitating that?


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27038073.

Imagine if only 60% of the population were willing to get the Polio vaccine in the 1950s? We'd have iron lungs everywhere, and never be rid of that scourge.

Yet here we sit, in the 21st century, with 40% of the population dead set on letting Covid mutate in their bodies and thus work its way around the vaccine.

We're never going back to normal at this rate because of those who aren't doing their duty and getting the vaccine.

Duty is a bit strong. I think maximizing vaccination is the best course for our situation, but it is still an optional individual action that each person has to weigh and decide themselves. Unfortunately the table has been set, and it looks like enough people have been swayed not to attend.

If Covid were Polio then we would have 140% of people getting the vaccine. Some people would get 5 shots. But Covid isn't' Polio. It mostly effects older fat people. Yes anyone can die, but that's with any virus.

Equating polio and covid is ridiculous. Also its amazing you trust the efficacy and safety of vaccines made with such haste.

The number of armchair virulogists that spawned in the last year makes my head spin. Folks who didn't know the difference between a virus and a bacteria are now pushing covid vaccine wokeness while a big bunch of them still think that hepatitis B is a bloody vitamin.

Good luck mate.

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