The dreaded second wave has started making rounds in Pakistan. Infections have gained momentum and continue to climb, patients continue to die. All day we hear health experts reiterating the importance of wearing masks.
And yet some people adamantly refuse to do so.
This begs the question, why is it so hard for some people to wear masks?
Research has shown that certain psychological factors and social stigmas can prevent people from making healthy decisions and as Eileen Kavanagh and Dirk Winter of the Columbia university medical center write in their New York Times Op-ed “Nowhere does this seem more evident than in our current reluctance to embrace universal mask wearing.”
The most basic answer to people’s refusal to wear masks can stem from an aversion to weakness. People think wearing a mask might indicate they are sick, or it may show that they are fearful of being sick which is why they shy away from wearing a mask.
Another reason, especially keeping Pakistan’s general easy going nature in mind, can be a mere underestimation of the seriousness of the Pandemic. The problem is, what is a testament to a national psychology of letting things happen without excessive anxiety may prove to be fatal for many of our countrymen. It is important to remember here that fear is not a shameful aspect of humanity, but is instead an evolutionary advantage. Our tendency to feel fearful and anxious is what has kept us alive. And now, when we refuse masks because of carelessness or a general nonchalance , we go against the very trait that has kept us alive for centuries.
However, interestingly, Northwestern University professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Jacqueline Gollan told NBC News, that she believes there’s another facet as well: mask rejection may be an intentional act of rebellion, an attempt to feel some sense of power amid a complicated global situation.
Gollan believes, these actions can also be an attempt to feel like they are still in control in a rapidly changing world
“Sometimes it’s a matter of wanting to control one’s own behavior and, in wanting to feel like they’re in control, they will do something like this,” Gollan said. It is possible that refusing to wear a mask stems from a place of denial, Having to embrace this new addition to our daily lives is to admit that we are acknowledging the severity of the problem. Suddenly, we are admitting that the new way of doing things is obsolete. This is the new normal now. This acceptance can be jarring.
Ultimately although wearing a mask in public is hard, especially when very few people around you are wearing one. You might feel as if you’re overreacting however, the fact remains that wearing mask is essential to saving lives. Pakistan might’ve emerged relatively unscathed from the previous wave of infections. The odds of that happening again are not good and we need to do our best to ensure we keep ourselves and others safe.
Go about your day as normal, but always remember to
WEAR YOUR MASK!!!