Amid the pandemic of Covid-19, people all over world has adopted the habit of wearing mask. We all know that the World Health Organization (WHO) has provided several guidelines in order to ensure health safety since the beginning of pandemic in Wuhan city of the People’s Republic of China. Like, wearing N-95 mask while travelling, maintaining social distance, wash hands for twenty minutes, use of hand sanitizers in case of water and soap management problem etc. The Directorate General of Health (DGH) in Bangladesh also agrees with the fact that people should strictly follow these guidelines. In the context of Bangladesh, violation of such strategies led punishment with imprisonment of six (6) months or with fine which does not exceed one (1) lac taka or both according to the provision of section 24(1), 24(2) of THE COMMUNICABLE DISEASES (PREVENTION, CONTROL AND ERADICATION) ACT, 2018. Other countries are also following Acts regarding contaminated disease like, the country UK is following The Coronavirus Act, 2020 that covers all possible issues arising from Covid-19 situation including the health factors. It might be troublesome for people in the beginning to embrace the ‘new normal’ but now they are almost becoming habitual with the new guidelines of stepping outside. Specially, the use of mask has become a common practice nowadays.
A question often arises that whether maintenance of mask nowadays accounts to obeying one of the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) or it has become a practice which we can define as ‘Mask Shaming’. The concept of mask shaming is a very new notion that has just arrived in several countries. In some markets of New York, customers are greatly disgraced by shopkeepers and other stuffs for not wearing mask. It is of course our duty to maintain mask while going to a place of social gathering but it is still not clear that when to use mask and when to not or whether it has to be maintained in indoor places having proper social distance. There is lot more to research about it. However, it often happens that people use mask not only for health protection but also to protect themselves from negative comments from public. We have become habitat to see people wearing masks almost everywhere. If it appears that all have worn mask in any office, bank or any particular place and we haven’t, then we somehow feel weird or guilty for not having it.
Researches of social psychology reveal that people tend to think about other people’s impression toward them, particularly when they step into a new environment for the first time. Social psychologists divided the matter of social influence into two categories, 1) Normative Social Influence, 2) Informational Social Influence.
Normative Social Influence means driven by the desire to be liked. Under this category, people want their activities to be accepted by society. People do not want to be judged by public in negative sense. So, when they see that all people in a particular area are regularly wearing mask, they automatically follow the behaviour.
Informal Social Influence is quite different from Normative Social Influence. It indicates motivation produced by the desire to be right. People categorized here retain the desire to establish that what they do is right above all. Such people do not bother about following tradition or judgment or any kind of taboo. They just think what is right. In describing about wearing mask, it can be said that such people just wear mask because they believe that they need to do so for creating shield for Covid-19 disease.
The concept of ‘mask shaming’ has been a topic of debate since months, though no conclusion has been created till now. Various researches on the origin of mask shaming reflect that the core reasons introducing the thought are basically fear and lack of consistent guidelines. The use of the term ‘fear’ describes that people who live in terrible feeling of spreading Covid-19 create mask shaming when they see anyone without having mask as scientific research experts in the beginning introduced the fact that one can save others from pandemic disease only by wearing a mask. This concept led some people introducing mask shaming. Lack of consistent health guidelines is another reason in collaboration with fear. Because of unclear health rules, public are confused about when to actually use the mask. So, some choose the option to constantly use the mask and some not.