Sitting on the tube this morning I counted 6 people wearing face masks. On the escalators at Angel, another 3 or 4 (one might have been a student fashion statement, it’s sometimes hard to tell). And these weren’t kooky Halloween masks or spooky Venice Carnival masks, they were slightly crappy surgical masks, clearly able to protect their wearers from absolutely nothing.
Surgical masks are this winter’s latest must-have accessory, battling with cashmere beanies and camouflage puffas for style icon of the year award. But really…Much like the nuclear bomb blast warnings of the 60s that suggested we take cover under a table, they have about as much safety effect as a pierced condom, plus you look like an out of work serial killer whilst wearing one.
I’m not belittling the Coronavirus, it’s clearly a serious issue, but guess what, flu killed over half a million people last year and I don’t remember Milan going into lockdown over it.
Words like Pandemic, (epidemic’s, cool hipster brother) seem to send us into a tailspin of panic, desperate to clasp onto any snake oil that will protect us. The simple facts are that if you are in good health, you are far more likely to die from being hit by a bus than the Coronavirus.
Essentially, the Coronavirus is a success of awesome marketing over substance. It’s like flu could only advertise on traditional media, but COVID 2019 went all social media on our asses and suddenly it’s all we can think about.
Stay safe on the streets, be smart, wash your hands, don’t cough all over your work colleagues, but also stay sane, look both ways when you cross the street, avoid badly cut pufferfish and maybe don’t cycle, because you are far, far, far more likely to end up in an ambulance if you ride a bike than if you don’t wear a mask on the tube. And flu, if you want a far more effective social campaign, drop me a line, I’m sure I can up your likes and engagement.