Analysis, Observations

Use Your Low-Beams

This meme is not as helpful as some people think. If it annoys you, I’m happy to hear you out.

One of my pet-peeves is when other drivers use high-beams when low-beams would be good enough. Our ability to see our surroundings depends on allowing our eyes to adjust to low-light so they can absorb the periphery as well as what is directly ahead. High-beam headlights are only desirable in rural areas, especially moving at high speeds, to see animals crossing.

Driving through Washington DC at twilight, I often used my dim, yellow parking lights because the street lamps made everything visible to me and my bright-red Pontiac was visible to everyone around me.

I’m tired of ‘cute’ memes shaming people

…about their choice to mask or not. A person with an uncovered face is not like someone careening through the dark in an automobile. Memes like this are dangerously close to ‘fallacy of false thesis’.

These memes undermine the third component of credibility: goodwill. Do you really want what’s best for the person who isn’t masking or are you too happy to shame them for their choice?

People who use smart-ass memes remind me of drivers who turn their high-beams on where they don’t need them. They don’t see the total situation better. They disorient us.

I notice that the culture wars are deepening over COVID19 precautions and I’m saddened. I used to relish a good ‘burn’ like this but I’m changing. I want to be more compassionate, more eager to understand.

I want to see more low-beam activism. Don’t outshine: illuminate! Just be a good example and stop trying to be a smart-ass.

I want to be a low-beam activist:

I mask. I show my solidarity with Palestine with a mask. I show my support for WPFW with a mask. I protect against influenza with a mask. I hide my face from surveillance, from the panopticon, from the forces that might try to control me… I fight power with my mask ON.

Getting vaccinated is the best thing a person can do right now. I’ll just say that plainly.

We’re past the point where shaming people for not masking (or even not vaccinating) is good strategy: the damage will be done. We already screwed-up, in the United States, and there will be consequences. Some people were not patient and pushed to restart normal life again too soon but, now, we must live as normally as possible. People can be part of reducing the damage, in the long-run, or have regrets. Masking will reduce the damage done by viruses.

Much of the damage is done by us, to each other. Be modest and choose your memes wisely. Don’t ridicule people who don’t mask: they do have valid reasons. I doubt they’ve seen the total situation correctly but,

and this is important,

they might not see well because gun-ho maskers have their high-beams on and it’s irritating. It’s disorienting. It hurts their credibility.


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