People in the East and West have different attitudes toward wearing masks. CHINA DAILY
As the global pandemic speeds up, many are wondering about the effectiveness of masks and when it’s appropriate to wear them. Most people from the East believe that wearing a mask is essential to control the spread of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP). But people in the West generally would argue that, unless one is already ill, wearing a mask is simply unnecessary.
In Eastern countries like China, mask-wearing is engrained in their cultures. In fact, people in the East wear masks not just to protect themselves from illness but also for a variety of other reasons.
In many Asian countries, masks are worn in many scenarios in daily life, such as doing housework or visiting patients in the hospital. They can give people the comfort of being protected.
In recent years, they are worn simply for cosmetic reasons. Young people in Japan, for example, wear masks as a fashion statement, expressing their personal style through unique designs and patterns.
In Asia, wearing a face mask is also an outward expression of group-oriented values.
With one’s face partially covered, one becomes part of a giant collectivist whole. “People communicated their responsibilities to the social group of which they were members,” wrote Peter Baehr, a research professor in social theory at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. “By disguising an individual’s face, it gave greater salience to collective identity.”
In Western countries, however, individual values are the most important.
As a citizen, it is one’s duty to prevent the spread of illness by following proper hygienic procedures, such as washing one’s hands and limiting one’s contact with others. A face mask is reserved only for those showing symptoms of illness.
Whether from the East or the West, social culture and peer pressure have played an important role in one’s decision about whether or not to wear a mask. That’s because human beings are social creatures who take into consideration what other members of society think of us. The most important thing is to respect others’ opinions, no matter how different they are.