Whether it’s a matter of politics or social responsibility, over the past year, you’ve probably felt tension between those wearing and not wearing a mask.
As mask guidelines continue to change, experts say that feeling will likely linger.
Chris Wolsko is an associate professor of psychology at OSU Cascades.
Wolsko believes tension surrounding masks right now is to be expected, just like it’s been the entire pandemic, but it becomes even tougher when people feel we are returning to normal.
“People who are still wearing masks might remind those who don’t feel the need to of the suffering and frustration having various restraints put on their lives,” Wolsko said.
Dr. Alexandra Solomon is a licensed clinical psychologist and a member of the Northwestern University faculty.
Solomon tells Central Oregon Daily News politics and perception play a role in how we’re feeling, and the fact that vaccinated people who tend to follow mask guidance are now without masks can be confusing.
“If you’re less risk tolerant than me, you’re at risk of perceiving me as reckless or selfish,” Solomon said. “It’s amplified by a thousand when you’re talking about a deadly virus in a very political climate.”
Wolsko refers to it as our symbolic identity.
“You see a person not wearing a mask and you may think this person doesn’t care about science or they’re not concerned about others or whatever it is, but we don’t know that,” Wolsko said. “It’s just an expression of one’s own preoccupations and one’s own identity.”
Both experts wouldn’t be surprised if these feelings of anxiety, tension, and distrust lasted a while longer or if some aren’t ready to toss the mask quite yet.