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In between sips.

Since the first one was such a huge success, a second open letter to fashion brands, the Ad Council and its supporters. That’s news sites Google and Facebook and brands such as Johnson and Johnson, Mars, Visa, Coca Cola, Verizon, Goldman Sachs and publishers like Vice Media, The Atlantic and NBC Universal. 

A sure sign that the pandemic has ended is that the government medical masks have arrived. Well, they’re mailing them. Well, CVS has a new automated helpline tree branch for when they are/might be arriving. The new and improved half assed attempt at winding down the pandemic is in full effect. 

But no one is buying it. Or not enough people are. Or people don’t trust the Government anymore, so sayeth the Edelman. People put more stock in Apple than they do our government and that’s just sad. And you can blame all of it on Trump, Pelosi, DeSantis and AOC but everyone has Covid on their hands. 

In just a shade over a year, we’ve managed to normalize the mask culture and this includes our government forcing flight attendants to become the mask police. Some have pushed back, like San Francisco’s mayor who’s had the right idea for months. I wanna party with Mayor London Breed, fun police be damned! 

When it’s time to take them off, people will need a reminder that a mask is not an outward expression of personal beliefs or a fashion accessory. PPE is easier to remove than political ideology, brand equity or a fashion statement. We must stop pretending we haven’t turned masks into all those things. Mistakes were made.

It’s Tuesday you need a mask, and now it’s Wednesday and you don’t. People aren’t going to just take these things off bandage style. You know it, I know it, the whole world knows it. Mask Stockholm syndrome is already happening in Virginia. People are also afraid. They feel they aren’t safe without this life-saving PPE because that’s what we’ve conditioned them to feel. Others are afraid you won’t immediately know who they voted for and where they stand on NRA or BLM if they take their masks off.  

I’m serious folks. I’m not kidding. Not, not a joke. I mean this sincerely. All kidding aside, I’m not joking

I drive the kids to school, buy the groceries, go to the coffee shops and I’ve traveled the world. People have fallen in love with their masks and have added “mask police” to their social justice and patriotic duty agenda. Because that’s what we told them to do. Now we have to tell them to knock it off in the nicest, most engaging inclusive way possible. 

We took out a second mortgage for three days of Disney last year and lost track of one of the kids near the Millennium Falcon for 4.5 terrifying minutes. Don’t even think about judging, I know it’s happened to you. The retail store bouncer wouldn’t let my maskless wife look for the kid. When you refuse to let a parent look for a lost kid because she left her mask in her other bag, something’s broken. We need to get people’s brains back on track. Child first, mask second. 

Here’s a great example from Thanksgiving break in which the person donning the blue respirator + disposable combo didn’t think I was raising my mask fast enough between sips. For some reason we need a federal mandate – imposed by appointed bureaucrats – with “in between sips” language. In this instance, our seatmate thought it was appropriate to report me to the flight attendant.

Since we were wearing our masks, along with our kids and our parents as well, there was no action needed by inflight support. Our beloved yet outraged seatmate channeled her frustration with my compliance by maintaining a steady barrage of personal insults for the remaining hours of the flight. Also, and not for nothing,  racially profiling my wife by asking her for tech support to operate the inflight entertainment is something maybe our good friend can take on as homework.  

I’ve seen this play out too many times since starting to get out into the world again. People are too easily triggered and feel it’s appropriate to instantly dehumanize anyone in the name of their version of social justice. According to FAA data, 72% (4,290) of all unruly passenger incidents reported were mask related in 2021. There was such a huge spike the FAA started tracking these events for the first time last year. 

The freaked out activist social distortion bleeds into other pandemic areas as well. Why were we short on tests? One reason might be because people heading off to their vacation in Reykjavik take about a dozen tests mid flight and pack a few more in their luggage? The shocked and shaken human interest double medical pus leopard print fashion mask bathroom quarantine story goes boom courtesy of CNN. My God the vanity, complete with affectation rims. 

When it’s time for a change, Ad Council and its social activist strategic consulting arm, Ad Council Edge can deploy their vast resources to help get my new initiative, “Masks Off America” under way. The same nonpartisan strategic efforts used to target “conservatives” as one of four priority audience subgroups (under “GenPop”) to get them to mask up can be applied to the new effort. 

Come to think of it, we may need to integrate Mask Upgrade America, with, “Masks Off America.” Just like Maya and Meghan helped out with the mask upgrade, we’ll need to go bigger for “Masks Off.” Oscar the Grouch and Tickle Me Elmo will need to remove their cloth branded masks to help get our kids back on track. I have three school aged kids. It’s crushing to watch what we are doing to them. To ignore our obligation in cleaning up the mess we created is just wrong. 

Motivating people to remove a medical device should be a milk run compared to exploiting conservatives’ economic fears alongside racial and age generalizations. We can target conservatives again by letting them know necessary medical devices won’t be taxed and in the future will be accessible to them using pre tax medical spending programs. International supply chain immunity awareness will bring about the kind of change we all want so that’s a no brainer as well. 

Humanity might be in the waning phase of the current pandemic or the migration from “pan” to “en” but we are just beginning to understand how the fashion mask culture we created will impact us in the long term.

“Masks Off America” should be good to go with conservatives this time around, but we may need to target liberals as a subgroup. We could focus on explaining that putting a medical device on shouldn’t be confused with fulfilling a civic obligation or fast track you for Nobel Laureate status. Please don’t give “Iceland Tourist” any awards. Please in the name of hope for humanity, no. 

We’ll need people who aren’t invested in “Mask Up” to write the “Mask Upgrade” followed by “Mask Off” campaign briefs. I don’t want to use the “c” word so let’s just say people who oppose the pervasive effective narrative tend to disappear with prejudice. We are going to need brave people willing to put their hand on the preverbal 3rd rail and see what’s next for the good of all mankind.