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Treating masks as fashionable, ‘smart’ accessories obscures necessary debate on liberties — RT Op-ed

By Lauren Chen, a social and political commentator who has appeared on Fox Information, BlazeTV, OANN, Newsmax, The Each day Wire and Insurgent Information. Observe her on Twitter @thelaurenchen

Electronics firm Razer is making a “sensible” masks as a brand new improvement in face coverings designed for on a regular basis customers. However after we undertake masks as a cultural development, what occurs to the talk round Covid-19 insurance policies?

Just lately, the electronics firm Razer introduced Project Hazel, their upcoming line of surgical-grade “sensible” masks. Along with an N95 respirator, a ventilator to control airflow, and an auto-sterilizing charging case, the masks additionally include a built-in microphone and amplifier system, in addition to personalizable lighting accents.

No matter the way it will in the end carry out with customers, Razer’s funding into this design is a considerably grim reminder that, multiple yr on from the beginning of the pandemic, masks have turn out to be a part of the ‘new regular’ we now discover ourselves in.

Finish-of-days consumerism?

When public well being officers first suggested the widespread adoption of face masks, worry over coronavirus was at an all-time excessive. Scientists have been nonetheless within the technique of investigating the virus’s mortality and transmission charges, and hospitals have been scrambling to seek out efficient therapies.

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And though many suppliers of face masks, a beforehand area of interest merchandise, initially bought out, it didn’t take lengthy for the availability chain to meet up with demand. Quickly, masks have been bought in every single place – from grocery shops to fuel stations and even bookstores. And, wanting to set themselves other than the competitors, manufacturers started providing masks in numerous colours and patterns, a departure from the normal blue and white hospital garb.

Quick-forward to as we speak, and masks have totally turn out to be built-in as a part of mainstream tradition. YouTubers promote masks emblazoned with their logos as a part of their merch collections and, questionably, some firms have additionally began incorporating face coverings into the designs of items of clothes, like attire and sweaters.

Razer’s Venture Hazel is simply the newest effort to make masks really feel much less like PPE, and extra like a wardrobe accent. Contemplating how psychologically distressing so many points of the previous yr have been, from the social isolation to the financial woes, it’s comprehensible why many have jumped on the prospect of constructing face masks just a bit bit extra bearable and, maybe, even a little bit enjoyable. However as the talk over civil liberties versus public well being insurance policies rages on, there’s legitimate concern over whether or not pushing masks as the newest vogue development obscures the specter of eroding private freedoms.

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Policymakers use panic to shift blame for Covid-19 onto us, the people. This will leave society scarred forever

The politics of pandemics

Like nearly all points of coronavirus, face masks have turn out to be broadly politicized. Insurance policies mandating the carrying of face coverings in public areas are each hailed as a obligatory step in stopping the unfold of the virus, and are criticized as an overreach of state powers.

At one excessive, some areas have masks rules that apply even to outside areas, and on the different there are governments which by no means instituted mandates in any respect, preferring to depart the choice to mask-up to people and companies. For politicians worldwide, these mandates are nearly like a entice that may depart their constituents believing they’re too authoritarian, or conversely, too lenient in relation to the virus.

Regardless of dropping each day circumstances and the continued rollout of vaccines, the outcry that occurred as Texas revoked its state masks mandate is an indicator that, for a lot of, obligatory masking ought to be right here to remain. And, although there may be nothing inherently mistaken with customers selecting to put on masks and customise them, the cynics amongst us could surprise how the ‘mainstreaming’ of substances previously reserved for medical professionals is affecting folks’s willingness to submit to those authorities directives.

In spite of everything, implications for private liberties apart, if they are saying masks cease the unfold of coronavirus, plus all of the cool children are carrying them, are masks mandates actually such an enormous deal?

A fashion-forward dystopia

We may have by no means predicted its improvement a yr in the past, however Venture Hazel is really the intersection of expertise, vogue, and politics. And whereas it could be attention-grabbing to think about a world the place all of us appear like cyborgs, with electronics embedded into the very garments we put on, that is additionally an indication that we are going to by no means actually return to the time earlier than “Fifteen weeks to sluggish the unfold.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially signify these of RT.

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