Save the Gaiters

Save the Gaitors

Save the Gaiters!

I am sure you have heard about the recent study condemning the effectiveness of the gaiter face mask as a means of preventing the spread of germs including COVID-19. In fact, the study implied that wearing a neck gaiter is worse than wearing nothing at all. Going out on a limb here, I find it hard to believe that using a face covering could possibly be more harmful than using no covering at all. But is it just me or does it seem like every other recommendation when it comes COVID differs from what we’ve previously heard? INSTEAD of trying to debate the efficacy of the gaiter mask (I’ve linked to a piece written in the New York Times that does a wonderful job of delving into the recent study) I’ve decided to take a look at the cultural use of face masks as a way to show respect for one another.

That’s right. Respect. For. One. Another.

Masks became a medical necessity for many during the outbreak of SAR’s in 2002. But did you know that Asians, especially in Japan, China and Taiwan, began wearing face coverings for many environmental and cultural reasons starting back in the 1950’s? Check out these examples. Taiwan citizens regularly wear masks help keep their faces warm in the winter while also helping them mentally and physically cope with brutal air pollution. Japanese wear masks when feeling sick as a courtesy to others (in fact, it is very rude to cough/sneeze without wearing a mask). In Japanese culture, women mask their faces on days when they do not want to put on makeup. In the Philippines, motorcycle riders use masks to keep road debris and other vehicular particulates from hitting their faces. But most importantly, a percentage of the 2 billion people from the countries listed above wear masks in public to demonstrate their courtesy and support of others. In this country, we continue to sneeze outwardly, in our hands, or in the crease of our arms as recommended. If we are sick, we tend to travel with plenty of tissue and cold medicine, but nothing more. On the upside, we are fortunate to have relatively clean air to breathe, so the mask is not as much of a necessity as in other places. Still, the face mask in our society today remains a burdensome item to be used only when required (and even then, compliance has been sketchy at best).

So where does that leave us when it comes to face masks?

With an opportunity. An opportunity to lead by example when it comes to regulations requiring their use. An opportunity to be more considerate of others when sick. An opportunity to show solidarity within our society. Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating the use of face masks without rational reasons to do so. But the symbolism of showing just a little respect for one another through their use might just help us in the long run. Every little bit can help.
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