- When you see someone who’s not wearing a mask, you might have the urge to scream at them. Or at least strongly suggest they step six feet away from you. But it’s not going to be as helpful as you might hope. We’ve all gotten the memo that the safest way to halt the spread of COVID-19 is to stay inside and practice social distancing. But when you do go outside, you should wear a mask, both to prevent yourself from getting sick and from also unknowingly passing along the disease to others. You’d think we’d all know that at this point, but we’ve also all noticed people on the street, in the stores and sometimes at our socially-distanced backyard family get-togethers walking around maskless like it’s 2019 or something.
From stubborn masculine pride to reactionary political ideology, the reasons why people are ignoring the advice of practically all medical experts are as myriad and unknowable as the human psyche itself. And one need only look at the horrifying, and rapidly spreading, numbers of infections and deaths from COVID-19 to recognize the cost of this carelessness.
Shaming total strangers, if not family members, into wearing masks has become popular of late. It might be cathartic, but it’s ultimately not effective, according to Daryl Appleton, Ed.D., a New York-based psychotherapist and Fortune 500 Executive Corporate Consultant who specializes in helping her clients amend unproductive behaviors.
“If you bully, threaten or guilt someone to change, at worst you will invoke primal defense mechanisms that will end in aggression,” she says. There are more than enough viral videos of strangers reacting poorly to mask shaming to prove her point.
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