Nicola Alpe: How wearing a mask became a political statement
You'd have to be completely disengaged right now to not know that the United States of America isn't very united.
Such a vast country with such a large and varied population means regional differences are massive. Politically the country is perhaps more divided than ever. The election of Barack Obama challenged many citizens. Likewise, the election of President Trump.
It used to be that Thanksgiving was a hotbed for familial disagreement. Thanksgiving is a bigger holiday for Americans than Christmas. The fact that it's not a religious holiday means that everyone able to sits down for a meal on Thanksgiving with their family or friends, in which case it becomes Friendsgiving.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
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As an outsider looking in, the only rules for Thanksgiving appear to be to eat some culinary combinations completely foreign to anyone raised outside of the US, avidly watch football and avoid talking politics.
But taking over from that, the latest hot source of contention within families and friends?
Face masks. More visible than a MAGA hat or a Bernie 2016 bumper sticker and quickly becoming more polarising, the face mask has become more than just a covering to try and reduce the spread of infection.
It's become an indicator of what kind of person you are and of which political team you are on.
LA County has made wearing masks mandatory, but it doesn't mean people wear them. Despite poor old Dr Fauci having to repeat himself for the umpteenth time, people still refuse to don a mask when they go outside around people not in their household.
Wearing, or perhaps not wearing a mask, is creating havoc within families and friendships. One friend, in a reflective mood, confided to me that in a time where people are reconnecting with friends over Zoom, her friendship circles are narrowing, telling me that friends she would see on a semi-regular basis now have pretty much run out of conversation and that Covid has highlighted that their friendship doesn't run much deeper than discussing the kids.
She pared down the holiday card list and then her circle narrowed even further, as she decided to limit time spent with friends not wearing masks and not making their kids wear masks. For everyone trying to do their bit to stop the spread of the virus, seeing a friend not wearing a mask is a slap in the face.
The latest campaign to do the rounds on social media is #justwearamask. Given the evidence to prove that wearing a mask can help minimise the spread of the virus, I agree with it, although I'd likely include an expletive.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
The goal is so our kids can go to school come autumn, the estimated 76.5 million students of school and university age. It's a valid point and one which hangs at the mercy of the actions and behaviours of the nonbelievers over the summer months.
These people believe that their right to not wear a mask outdoors is greater than the rights of the general population and damn anyone who tells them otherwise. Definitely not team players and certainly not members of New Zealand's team of five million.
Colleges are already going out saying their first semester will be online. Our preschool is opening two months early so children can reconnect with their friends and bond with their teachers before in all likelihood another chunk of time at home.
Covid seems set to stay for some time and once we return home I don't care what wearing a face masks says about me. If it means we can return to a greater sense of normality sooner, then I'm on that team.