If you are as terminally online as I am, you may have noticed a new Instagram page called “EU Mask Choice” (@/eumaskchoice) pop up in your feed recently. Their online presence consists of a whopping 80 followers, a cheap website that houses effectively nothing but pontificating, clunky and redundant infographics, dependably dissident and sarcastic engagement, and satire accounts with twice their followers. Their comment sections is filled with “sheep” name-calling, non-sequitur digs at reproductive rights, tagging Eastern’s main account urging them to “do something” (in vain, predictably), teasing implications about the size of the account admin’s genitalia, and far too much earnestness for this early in the year. It’s barely February and we’re at each other’s throats.
Look, folks, we’re quickly approaching the two-year anniversary of Kicked-Off-Campus-gate. We’re tired. We’re depressed. We know people who have died — or at least we know people who know people who have died. We know healthcare workers — or at least nursing students — who are scared and burnt out. We’ve seen too many pictures of neoliberal politicians and celebrities with needles stuck in their flesh. (No one wants to see that.) We’re tired from back-and-forth restrictions and allowances on campus every semester. We’ve been desensitized to the idea of almost a million Americans dead from this disease. We like the masks keeping our faces warm in winter and we hate the masks suffocating us in the summer. All we want is our degrees, better food at the DC, and to see our friends and live our lives. Look at how much we have in common.
That said, this Instagram account is one of the most banal and pestiferous things I’ve seen emerge from this student body. It’s insufferable. There’s overdone discourses in their replies, and the whole thing is just an infernal racket. Both the account and petition is unnecessary if they just wanted to get rid of masks; if you look around campus, there’s any number of guys foregoing masks, and they don’t seem to care at all about some petition from a tiny Instagram account. If these account admins only wanted to not wear a mask, they could. No, what they want is to not suffer the consequences of not wearing a mask, hence the petition to change the school’s policy from the top down. (They could learn a thing or two about grassroots organizing from the maskless guys, if they wanted to.)
Here’s the thing. This whole question of whether masks should be implemented seems to usually be answered the loudest by two kinds of people. The first yells “my body my choice” (hilariously ignorant of the implications to everyone else), uses the word “sheep” too much (allowing computers with pretty colored lights to herd them around our roads), and signs petitions that are destined to fail. The second prides themselves on scientific orthodoxy bordering on dogmatism, tends to an extreme abundance of caution and panic, and trusts the government far too much. But there is, in fact, another option here (and it isn’t snobbishly centrist, it’s just common sense).
Calm down. Touch grass. Please be quiet. Keep your mask on, not because it’ll magically immunize you, but because a little bit of cloth in front of your face that catches your nasty particles and droplets protects people more vulnerable than you, Mr./Ms./Mx. spry and healthy 21-year-old college student. We’re all so tired from caring so much. Leave if you don’t like the consequences you signed up for by registering this semester; stay if you’re prepared to be told to go back to your room and get a mask if you forget it once in a while. That’s all.
My cards on the table: I’m all for distrusting the government and its entities, including the CDC. Hell, I’m a Marxist libertarian — I don’t trust the government or big pharma either. But at the same time, I am vaccinated and I wear a mask, because it wouldn’t be in the interest of big pharma and their sell-outs to do bad science that kills us all. Then they’d have none of our money, and that’s all they really want. Make the interests of capitalists work for you and your loved ones, and mask up so that you all live. And to the replyguys causing righteous chaos on this Instagram page: Nice work. I salute you.
Be well, everyone.
Sources: CDC Covid Tracker