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Funny how things pile up
Author: TriSec    Date: 05/08/2021 13:24:16

Good Morning.

Celebrating the end of week one back at a desk.

A nice air-conditioned desk on a transit line, with many fine local establishments within walking distance. Even a Wrecka Stow!!

But I have noticed something else. It appears that driving has taken a much larger toll on me than I thought it did. Nevermind all the problems over the last 8 months; I'm still working on that - filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Department of Labor this morning about some things. (Yes, I'm going to be a whistle-blower.)

But I have dusted off some old planning tools I used to use the last time I sat at a desk. I have an actual to-do list again; I'm keeping notes and creating tasks. Yeah, much of it work-related, but some of it not.

More than a year ago, I transmitted an application to the William Sutton Lodge in my hometown. My friends there told me at the time, that everything was shut down for coronavirus, and they weren't even processing new member requests. Over the winter, I had lamented that the opportunity was probably gone.

Out of the blue - my friend contacted me yesterday to see if I was still interested. Of course, we'll still pursue this. As I have discovered, many Scouters are also Masons, and the organizations' goals and beliefs are very close to each other.

Closer to home - it's Steampunk weekend here in Waltham. I think some of you are at least familiar with this, as it was the largest such festival in the country until last year.

They are having a bevy of online events today, and as it's the first steampunk weekend I've had off since 2016, I will be watching some video later.

Ah....but we probably could have had that in-person. After a rocky start, Massachusetts seems to be now leading the nation in vaccination rates. All of our numbers are trending in the right direction, and this Commonwealth has had less than 10 new cases per day for the month of May so far. (I wonder what we'll all do when the graphs and numbers aren't reported daily anymore - I follow this like some rich republicans follow the stock market, but I digress.)

Finally, not sure if this is national or not, but Massachusetts has eased the mask restriction outdoors and when distancing is possible. (It's still required indoors or in crowds.) That's resulted in an interesting new dynamic, to say the least.

Just in from Israel for a visit and eager to stroll along the Charles, Iris Yoeli had a question for her son: Did she need to wear a mask? Nah, he told her, the outdoor mandate has been relaxed. If you can stay approximately 6 feet away from others not in your household, you generally don’t need a face covering. So when she strode out of his Cambridge home with her dog, she did so with her face uncovered.

But wait … what was going on? Wherever Yoeli looked, there were people wearing masks — joggers, parents pushing strollers, people whizzing by on bikes.

“I went here and there, maybe only two people did not wear masks,” she said, sounding like someone caught in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

It made her so uncomfortable that she hasn’t stepped outside barefaced since. “It was like I was an outsider,” she said.

After a year of smile-free interactions, fogged glasses, maskne, and general mask misery, you would have thought we would have ripped those things off our faces and never looked back.

But masks, we don’t know how to quit you.

Why not? For starters, there’s intense confusion. Can you really stay far enough away from people on the Esplanade? Then there’s the political angle — liberals fear they’ll look like anti-maskers if they shed their facial badges. And experts in human behavior say a powerful social phenomenon, beyond even Donald Trump, also is driving the behavior.

So many people are ignoring the updated state guidelines — which no longer require people to wear masks when they walk, bike, or run alone or with members of their households if they social distance — that many who want to stop wearing masks are still covering their faces because it’s easier than dealing with the glares.

Iris’s son, Erez Yoeli, a research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management whose work focuses on altruism, says that kind of social pressure is the force driving many mask wearers now.

“Until people are reasonably sure that others also know the rules have changed — that a consensus has built that masks outdoors aren’t required — they’ll want to avoid looking like jerks,” he said.

David Rand, an associate professor at MIT whose research bridges the fields of behavioral economics and psychology, said it’s a well-studied phenomenon known as a “sticky” social norm.

“A norm got established,” he said, “and now, even though the rationale behind the norm has changed, the norm has not kept up. The norms are stickier than the official rules.”

Amid the politicization of masks, liberals have made COVID protection or prevention behaviors part of their identity, he observed. “If you’ve spent the past year feeling good about yourself because you’re wearing a mask, how can you take it off?”

We have a saying in Scout circles about invited and planned events. "When in doubt, wear your uniform." I think the same can be said about masks now.


3 comments (Latest Comment: 05/09/2021 16:35:05 by TriSec)
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