Pandemic posturing & performance
Not one of the (conflicting) coronavirus conspiracy theories finds any basis for faulting the guy where the buck is supposed to stop. That’s the big tell that, taken literally, every one of the conspiracy-mongers is bullshitting. But:
We have a “don’t wear masks” movement that overlaps almost entirely with the “reopen immediately” movement.
There are only two possible explanations for why this might be. The first is that people are dumber than a bag of hammers.
The second is that when people tell you what they think about “reopening” and “masks,” they aren’t actually talking about the coronavirus. They’re telling a story about how they see themselves and their place in the world.
… [T]here is a non-trivial number of Americans—maybe it’s 1-in–10, maybe it’s 1-in–4—who … view the pandemic as … opportunity to posture and perform.
In part, this is an artifact of how successful the mitigation measures have been: Because the death toll has been held to the scores of thousands, many people have the luxury of talking and acting however they like without facing real-world consequences …
As America’s decadence has increased over the last 30 or so years and we have become—just objectively speaking—a less serious country, one of the stories we have told ourselves was that we could become a serious people again if we faced a big enough shock or a stern enough test. That the steely, strong, serious America of the last century—the America that survived the Depression and crushed the Nazis and put men on the moon—was still somewhere within us, just waiting to be awakened. That our true, best selves just needed a call to action, a grave, existential summons.
The reaction of this vocal and sizable minority to the pandemic suggests that this story might not be true, either.
Jonathan V. Last, The Curious Case of the People Who Want to “Reopen” America—But Not Wear Masks.
Well, that kinda got dark at the end, didn’t it?