When your friend refuses to wear a mask during the pandemic

Definitions of life have altered to such a extent in the past six months that one is flabbergasted with dealing with the ‘New Normal’. How much of it is going to be new for the future and whether it will at all be normal is something only time will tell. The whole life seems to have been turned turtle. Just when we were promoting socializing came the dictat to stay away from people as much as possible. When we had just about accepted our much worked upon faces, we’re having to don the mask to shield the face from the deadly virus.

If in March you smirked at those who tried telling you to wear a mask with the sharp retort that ‘Nothing can happen to me’, your invincibility to the virus was challenged when you, your loved ones or someone you knew got infected, turned serious or lost their lives. Even POTUS Trump who mocked at the pandemic and took it lightly without wearing a mask for the longest possible time, had to face the hardship of getting infected. Inspite of all the depressing news all around us, we still come across people who just refuse to wear the mask. We have seen several instances of people refusing to wear masks and the outrage that followed. So many people were taken out of their flights, so many celebrities faced the ire of fans online and many more.

Some common excuses given by such people are-

How much of this argument can you buy is all up to you. In the company of such individuals, who care two hoots about their own and others’ safety, you are left with no choice but to deal appropriately. Dealing this matter at your personal level is the first step, but definitely don’t stop at that. You may avoid such a friend or safeguard yourself, but the same person may end up moving around and infect many such ignorant beings out there. The best way is to convert the friend to a mask-wearer. Gift the friend a mask, convince, coerce or talk through, do what you can and increase the tribe.

  1. If you’re meeting someone who just refuses to wear a mask / has forgotten to carry one (either genuinely or deliberately) or slips it down while speaking, and is sitting in close proximity to you, the best you can do is to don your mask as snugly as possible and not to pull it out at any cost. Strictly keep more than 6 feet distance from this person, even if it entails being seated at a long distance. You can try prohibiting entry for people without masks. So your friend is no exception. Put up signs that say so and you’re safe to point towards it. Being left out many times encourages people to relent.
  2. Come out of the place if you are in a small room, out into the open space. Take your friend to the lobby, the terrace or the nearby empty space. If you’re at home, make sure your friend moves out with you as quickly as possible. It’s not just about your safety, it’s also the safety of others who would cohabit the space with you. Put your kids and the elderly away from such a person. Make sure you sanitize such a room quickly.
  3. Try to carry a spare mask to hand over to such people. Refuse to talk to them until they wear one. In case they still remain adamant, put your foot down. Nothing can deter you from following safety norms for the benefit of you and everyone else. It is wise to start treating such an individual as though he/ she is already infected and proactively stay away from them without being rude. You never know who an asymptomatic carrier of the virus is.
  4. Refuse to participate in parties or events or visit houses where the people don’t wear a mask when meeting other than family. Avoid interacting with friends who take the pandemic lightly. Many people who have shrugged off the pandemic saying it’s just another flu, have ended up with infection or have had members of their family and friends getting infected with their negligence. Try quoting examples. Being stern and not buying their argument that nothing can happen to me is the key.
  5. When a friend who refuses to wear mask initiates a meeting, convince him/ her to interact online. That way you avoid meeting in person. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid direct interactions. If everything from convocations, medical consultations, academics and entertainment can happen online, why can’t friends meet online too? Frequent insistence on meeting online may at least convince the friend to wear a mask in order to meet you! Wishful thinking, you say? You never know what can convince someone unless you deprive them of something they covet.
  6. Show your friends some hard hitting data about asymptomatic patients and how they pose serious risk to others when they move about without a mask. Each one owes a large responsibility of protecting the lives of others. Don’t be a reason for someone else’s life. Your friend would at least not be the one.

Use all your skills but make sure you succeed in the end. Not one, but more friends if needed. Especially in the times that we now live in, what we do matters more to those who are around us too.

How have you dealt with friends who refused to wear a protective mask? What worked for you? Take a moment and comment below.

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