If you hadn’t already seen my face popping up left, right and centre all over PlymouthLive there’s a good chance you’ll have seen it plastered over your twitter this week (Sorry).
On Wednesday afternoon, I tweeted a picture of a new face mask I’d bought online.
It was a bit of a joke mask, purchased purely as an outlet for my growing frustration at some of the people I passed in the supermarket.
Then it went viral. My phone was pinging like a Geiger counter inside a nuclear reactor.
Hundreds of people were messaging me and liking my tweet. Then thousands. Then tens of thousands.
Anyway, fast forward 48 hours and my current score count is somewhere in the realm of 400,000 likes.
It made me realise that what I initially thought of as a throwaway annoyance is something that is getting on the nerves of hundreds of thousands of people around the world – people who don’t wear their mask over their nose.
That’s it. That’s the tweet.
It’s been in the back of my mind for the most part of post-pandemic 2020, walking around the supermarket seeing people’s hooters poking out over the top of their masks.
Surely they know why we’re being asked to wear masks right? Surely they know the nose, along with the mouth is a pretty key component of the respiratory system? So why would you cover one but not the other?
After encountering another round of nose-showers at Sainsbury’s in Marsh Mills last week, I was officially over trying to communicate with wide eyes, side glances and mime.
Going up to people to point out their mask etiquette in the middle of a global pandemic when we’re supposed to be social distancing isn’t really my vibe either so I figured there must be a better way.
Bam! Half-past midnight (because my sleeping pattern is whack) on Monday morning – after googling ‘the mask goes over your nose’ – my questions were answered.
I thought ‘screw it’, parted with a sweet £7.99 and waited 1-2 business days for a black face mask with ‘IT GOES OVER YOUR NOSE’ plastered in obnoxiously bold type across the front.
Then I tweeted a picture of it to show my friends. At this point the collection of people who had already made the terrible decision to follow me knew me personally or knew of me through work or wider social circles.
Thinking it would make a good impression with a solid 30 or so people I took it in-front of my unkempt coat rack whilst honestly looking relatively unkempt myself.
Didn’t think that one all the way through, did I? Because now 19 million people have at one point another been subjected to my face and my coat rack.
I don’t really know what happened after that but it was mostly a bombardment of phrases like ‘I need this!’, ‘Where can I buy this?’, ‘OMG YES’ and then it spiralled RAPIDLY out of control.
I am fully devastated that I have no creative transferable skills because I estimate the mask company I linked back to has made about £4,000 in the last two days.
Before I knew it, I was being tagged in screenshots of my own face on facebook, as radio stations and meme pages around the world started sharing it.
Going viral is a very strange experience – I’ve got about 3,000 new followers from all over the world and none of whom I know.
The experience is also finally starting to stagnate and allow me to trickle back into insignificance with my batches of notifications coming in swathes of every few minutes rather than every millisecond.
I guess it would be comparable to a massive virtual come-down, except in this instance you are fully coherent at your high and get people simultaneously hyping you up and slagging you off.
My true high could still be yet to come though because I know for a fact my face has made it onto the account of someone who is followed by Barack Obama.
Barack, notice me please.
Jenny Eclair retweeted me, some man with a million followers who I believe works on American talk shows retweeted me, I even reached the dizzying height of Percy Weasley from Harry Potter getting in on the tweet.
It seems like everyone, everywhere (apart from the special few that either don’t believe in the pandemic, are afraid wearing masks leads to some kind of global microchipping conspiracy, or just like being deliberately antagonistic for the hell of it) does not understand the point of wearing a mask half-arsed.
It’s been described, men, like putting your pants on but wanging out over the waistband – and I know this because far more people than I would have liked have shared the cartoon version of that analogy with me.
So what’s up Plymouth/the UK/the World? Why are so many of us going loopy at the nose brigade?
Side note, someone has already wished a bacterial infection on me for wearing a mask, so for those of you who are inevitably going to throw other comments like: ‘Virtue Signalling’, ‘Doesn’t work’, ‘Sheep’ – or even better ‘Sheeple’ into this discourse, please save yourself the time. I have seen, quite literally, hundreds of those comments in the last 48 hours and I’m starting to run out of original Erin Black™ retorts.
Aside from the fact noses above masks look silly, and that’s not me being rude because I’ve got over 400,000 people to back me up, it’s actually pretty dangerous.
Wearing a mask with your nose out actually kind of defeats the whole purpose of wearing a mask in the first place.
Scientists and researchers have determined that the nose is a key entry point for SARS-CoV-2, so walking around with the mask around your chin, or just your mouth leaves that other key respiratory orifice wide open to get, but most importantly pass on infection.
I won’t go into the heavy stuff because because this is an opinion piece about the bonkers virality of my off-the-cuff tweet and less so on the virality of the actual virus.
I know the mask is pretty bold, but I don’t wear the mask around the shop in mean spirits. I genuinely hope it will make a difference to those people who maybe have not yet realised that it’s equally as important to cover your nose.
So far it proved its worth as a man covertly pulled his mask up when he saw me bombing it towards the broccoli in the veg aisle this week.
In the ever bizarre saga that is my life, I’ve since been asked if my picture can be used on Good Morning Britain, and a PR company contacted me to offer me a limited edition ‘Wear A Bloody Mask’ mask as part of a campaign with Brian Blessed of all people (not that I want to look like I’ve sold out at the first opportunity, but you can watch Brian Blessed’s video at the top of this article. It’s quite funny).
I know that some people can’t wear masks for genuine medical reasons so no judgement there, but obviously I said yes to a free mask – it’s actually very good quality and smells like new car.
I can’t believe what I’m writing. Am I an influencer now?
No, definitely not.
Suffice to say, my 15 minutes is nearly up, so while I’ve still got you here, the people have spoken: your mask goes over your nose.