Masking to Avoid Missing Things

December 15th, 2022
About a year ago I wrote that I'd now:

follow official guidance and mask regulations, cheerfully go along with precautions others need, and test+isolate when sick, but I'm not going to go above and beyond to attempt to reduce spread the way I did for earlier parts of the pandemic.

And yet I'm often wearing an N95 in situations where they're not required and a large majority of other people aren't masked. Are these in tension?

My views haven't changed. I still think that if my region and the communities I'm part of aren't going to put a serious effort into keeping covid from spreading then it doesn't make sense for me to make large sacrifices on my own for pro-social reasons. But if I get covid, or one of the several other things going around, I'll need to isolate to avoid getting other people sick. That means missing things I'd be very sad to miss, and I'll take steps to avoid that:

  • I masked at the MetaSUB conference the weekend before Thanksgiving.

  • I masked at Sunday's EA dinner and my work's holiday party because I'm running music for a secular solstice this Saturday (sort of an atheist church service inspired by ideas from the effective altruism and rationalist communities).

  • I'm planning to mask at the solstice event because it's just before relatives come to town for Christmas.

On the other hand, I didn't mask at Thanksgiving and I'm not planning on masking at Christmas because being sick right after that is, while not ideal, basically fine.

While this does have pro-social effects, slowing down the rate of transmission of airborne diseases, my motivation here is primarily selfish: I don't want to miss things.

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