Decoding respirator cultures
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2020-03-24
People in the East and West have different attitudes toward wearing masks. CHINA DAILY
导读:新冠肺炎疫情在全球蔓延,世界卫生组织总干事谭德塞表示,当前,欧洲已成为新冠肺炎疫情“大流行” 的中心。尽管疫情形势不容乐观,但很多欧美人依然不愿戴口罩,甚至嘲笑戴口罩的人。那么在戴口罩这件事上,为什么东西方差距如此悬殊?

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.

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)
Pandemic  大流行
Engrained  根深蒂固的
Scenarios  情景
Collectivist  集体主义的
Salience  突显
Reserved  预留
Symptoms  症状