Our recent annual summer drive back to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio took us through Nashville. While I was waiting to check into our room at the hotel, I noticed a woman entering the hotel lobby. If I had to guess, I would say that we were roughly 15-20 feet away from one another. As I turned towards her, with my mask under my chin, she looked at me and made the following declaration to all who could hear: "In no way will I ever stand near someone who is not wearing a mask. When you are done with this guy, you can come get me outside." And just last week, while at the grocery store, I walked by a young man in one of the aisles. When he saw that I was not wearing a mask (and he was), an interesting encounter ensued. As we passed by each other, he did a sideways type of bend that enabled him to "move out of the way." Apparently, the Matrix-style move enabled him to avoid catching SARS-COV-2.
It seems safe to assume that these encounters are not personally unique. What such incidents reveal is the profound psychological character surrounding the nature of masks. At least in America, it is certainly the case that there is a rather broad spectrum on the enforcement of mask mandates. Some businesses and institutions can be less restrictive than others on this enforcement, depending upon the state in which you live. And even within a given state, there tends to be significant variations. In Houston, for example, living in Montgomery County versus Harris County can give two rather different stories surrounding the concern over SARS-COV-2.
Even keeping in mind all these national and local differences, the requirement to wear masks in America is still universally upheld. And one of the primary reasons why this is the case stems from the predominant narrative surrounding the effectiveness of masks themselves. This particular narrative is worth briefly exploring.