We’ve reached the point where putting on a mask and physically distancing are seen as overt political statements, whereas Asia deals with it maturely as they always have. The same people who employ the terms “snowflake” and “triggered” with smug chagrin now whinge without a trace of irony about being asked to limit the spread of a virus.

I’ve previously attributed these reasons to why people think like this:

  1. wilful ignorance (I don’t care what doctors say);
  2. gleeful malice (this will anger latte sippers);
  3. narcissistic projection (others only fein compassion too);
  4. misplaced trust (talking heads wouldn’t lie to me);
  5. and ignoring that with freedom comes responsibility.

But herd mentality is another way that intersects all of these. When your “team” doesn’t include healthcare professionals, scientists, social workers, and researchers, their advice is perceived as a challenge. Emboldened by a biased press and populist political class, they then act out in embarrassing, juvenile ways. It’d be worthy of a Darwin Award if it didn’t perversely affect millions of innocent people.

(Where does the freedom of others come into their thought processes? Personal responsibility dictates that you shouldn’t push your sickness on others against their will. This is one of the many ways point 5 above manifests).

Australians against masks fortunately occupy the fringes where they belong, but they’re still there. I’ve had to roll my eyes more than a few times at middle-aged white men who laugh when I wear mine. One time I had a coughing fit just to screw with them; they bolted instantly. Conversely, people in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan have a mature attitude precisely because they have a pragmatic history of coping with these illnesses. It’s almost as though living in close quarters with millions of other people doesn’t leave responsible people much choice.

He was already being regularly tested, but it gives me hope that even Mr Orange wears a mask in public now. Hopefully his supporters will realise now this virus doesn’t play politics.