The Cocktail Party Contrarian: Masks and the Problems of Blind Compliance

A visit to an ophthalmologist spurs a humiliating flashback to a time not long ago when a suppressed and submissive population was gripped by fear and government mandates.

Via pexels.com
As I walked out, I realized that more upsetting than a physician continuing to push masks are patients willing to tolerate them. Via pexels.com

When I walked into my ophthalmologist’s office recently, I noticed everyone was wearing a mask. It was a jarring sight, and a humiliating flashback to a time when a suppressed and submissive population was gripped by fear and government mandates. 

Those days are thankfully over, so I assumed the masks were voluntary, the choice of traumatized people who can’t let go of their fear. “It’s a shame,” I thought, “how corrosive and lasting manipulation can be.” 

Then the receptionist, also masked, greeted me at the window and asked me to grab a mask from the box on the counter as I checked in. This was office policy. I was stunned. I declined and offered to wait outside until called in for my appointment. 

She leaned in and explained that the doctor had surgery the following week and therefore, out of an abundance of caution, he was asking patients to mask themselves both in the waiting room and in the examination room. 

I could only see half her face, but the look in her eyes was familiar. It suggested that she was asking for the kind of “understanding” that any caring person concerned for the wellbeing of others would surely offer — and be ashamed to withhold. She lowered her voice in an attempt to get me to lower mine, presumably so others nearby wouldn’t overhear my resistance and realize that it was an option they might exercise as well. 

So, I raised my voice, hoping exactly that might happen. I announced that I would not put a mask on — not because the doctor didn’t have the right to his own personal anxieties, but because the best way to address them would have been to stay home for the week, not come to the office and ask others to accommodate his concerns. One of the many distortions produced by the Covid era is the delusion that one person’s need to feel safe should necessarily become everyone else’s moral obligation to make him or her feel that way, reality and facts notwithstanding. 

As I walked out, I realized that more upsetting than a physician continuing to push masks are patients willing to tolerate them. No one seemed inspired by my protest. They just sat there, breathing through paper, watching me. Maybe they really needed their appointments, but I would have liked to think a greater need was freedom and common sense. 

I don’t care if people make the personal choice to wear masks: However I judge that decision, it is none of my business. I do care, though, if they wear them because they’ve been instructed to do so. That kind of compliance comes with a communal price. The CDC and our elected officials may be wondering if they will still be able to seize control of the population the next time the opportunity presents itself, and the masked people in that waiting room just gave them hope that they will.


The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use