Social stigma of PPE
One reason to wear less PPE is that it can be embarrassing to wear more PPE.
This potential for embarrassment seems interesting. Especially where the main cost of precautions is the social stigma.1 What exactly is the stigma stigmatizing? Being so concerned about a widely-acknowledged-to-be-worth-a-lot-to-avoid disease that you are willing to risk social stigma? Why should you be embarrassed by evaluating a disease as worse than social stigma? Couldn’t it just be that you don’t expect the social stigma to be that bad? Is there some equilibrium size of social stigma implied by such a situation? (Or even if you evaluate the disease to be bad, isn’t that pretty clearly demonstrated by now?)
Also, I’m not sure I have heard anyone other than the president of America mock someone else’s PPE, so it’s unclear where I got the impression that it is embarrassing. It doesn’t seem to be an entirely idiosyncratic impression. It was worse at the outset - I remember the day San Francisco first locked down, I went out one last time to buy some things wearing a mask, and I felt painfully silly.
Pragmatically, if I feel embarrassed wearing a lot of PPE, I think about:
- how I’m correct, and anyone judging me is wrong
- how they can’t see my face now anyway, especially if I add some more PPE
- how it seems genuinely pitiable to be cowed into risking your life by the possibility of strangers (who are wrong) laughing at you. Then I feel sad for the people who would judge me, for some of them probably dying out of embarrassment at someone potentially laughing at them if they wore a more serious mask, similar to how I would feel sad for someone who got syphilis because they were too embarrassed to ask for a condom, or died of snake bite on their butt because they were too embarrassed to take off their pants to show the doctor.
For instance, if I’m walking around outside (pretty safe) and could wear a really safe P100 mask or a less safe cloth mask, and they are about as comfortable to me, and I’m going to end up wearing the P100 when I get to the place I’m going, then it is clearly better to wear the P100 now, except that I do feel kind of silly if I wear the P100 mask walking around outside. ↩