What does ‘mask shaming’ say about human nature…and does it work?
RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues, a new behavior known as “mask shaming” has popped up as people politicize the debate over face coverings.
North Carolina State University anthropology professor Nora Haenn said the argument is part of human nature.
“When I see people kind of moving to two different sides, what I see them trying to do is make sense of the confusion, impose order on the chaos,” Haenn said.
President Donald Trump has largely refused to wear a face mask in public, telling White House aides he believes it makes him look weak. During a Tuesday press conference, Trump asked a reporter to remove his face mask while asking a question, saying he couldn’t hear the journalist. The reporter refused.
Previously, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said that wearing a face mask signals compassion for others.
Those who study social interactions say “mask shaming” comes in both forms–those who opt to wear masks heaping scorn on those who don’t, and those who refuse to cover their face calling those who do weak.
“That’s what we do as human beings,” Haenn said. “These are informal ways we try to keep each other in line. Even in the best of times, we certainly shame each other.”
While the shaming sometimes happens in person, Haenn said it is most prominent on social media. And while shaming can sometimes change behavior, Haenn said it’s less effective when done in anger.