“Cover your nose hole, genius.” Photo by Jason Pramas.


A Visual Guide with Photos (for the Thickheaded or Sociopathic)

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking around Cambridge with my wife—or trying to walk around, just before the city order that made masks mandatory—and, frustrated with the significant numbers of people on the street not wearing masks, she suddenly exclaimed “Fucking Maskholes!”

Knowing comedy gold when I hear it, I said “that’s really good!” Then I sat on popularizing the expression until I had a good reason to make use of it. More recently, as the mask order went into effect and most people finally started covering their faces when outside their homes in the so-called People’s Republic, I found that reason: Too many people are using face coverings incorrectly during the pandemic.

So I decided to make this little illustrative photo essay to demonstrate incorrect (and correct) mask usage—with tongue firmly in cheek. Hoping the images below might stick with readers long enough to have some effect via negative reinforcement.

However, before the photos, let me drop a little common sense on you all: This is about how people hurt other people by refusing to cover their faces during a pandemic. Civil libertarian arguments of the right absolutely do not hold water in this context. A person’s individual freedom to not wear a mask does not trump other people’s right to avoid getting infected with the coronavirus. A virus which can and does kill far too many people of all ages. Including people who are young and white and privileged. Masks are the only way to avoid such infection in many public situations. So everyone needs to suck it up and do it in all our interests. Including the people who don’t want to wear a mask. Since they too are humans and can easily get infected if other people don’t wear masks around them.

Civil libertarian arguments of the left are also questionable. People of color may be at higher risk from wearing masks because we live in a racist society that targets them (often violently) for covering their faces for any reason—the assumption being that they are dangerous criminals. But the coronavirus does not discriminate. It infects everybody. Making it profoundly irresponsible to suggest that anyone should not cover their faces when out and about. Because prior to its jumping from animals to humans last year, no humans on the planet had immunity to it. Now, unfortunately, that lots of people are getting infected with coronavirus all over the world, we’re in the long brutal process of developing herd immunity against it as more and more of us contract the virus and either get it then either don’t sick or do get sick and recover. Along the way, millions will die worldwide. Numbers which can only be lowered prior to the development of useful treatments and a decent vaccine by social distancing… and covering our faces in public.

Masks and other face coverings stop the little particles that come out of people’s noses and mouths when they breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze from getting breathed in by other people—or settling on surfaces that they can later touch and then stick in their noses or mouths. And infecting them if people without masks are infected with the coronavirus. Because most masks and face coverings that people can obtain right now don’t protect them from breathing particles in the air (or putting their fingers near or in their noses and mouths if they’re careless). And, in a huge number of cases, people without masks will not know they are infected because they either never get COVID-19 symptoms or only get mild symptoms that don’t warn them and others that they should be quarantined.

But masks and other face coverings only work if you cover both your nose and mouth. And, sadly, many people don’t do that. Or they keep their faces uncovered in public unless they’re near other people—despite the fact that they can be breathing out infectious particles that can hang in the air long enough for someone else to breathe in after they’re already blocks away (if outside, depending on weather conditions that are still being studied) or elsewhere in a building (if indoors, in conditions that have been approximated in labs).

That said, here are the photos. Enjoy! And cover both your nose and mouth when outside (as I eventually demonstrate in the last image)!


“This does nothing unless you have a tracheostomy tube in your neck.” Photo by Jason Pramas.


“A mask is a not a magic talisman.” Photo by Jason Pramas.


“Never do this.” Photo by Jason Pramas.


“Did your mama drop you on your head?” Photo by Jason Pramas.


“There you go!” Photo by Jason Pramas.

Apparent Horizon—recipient of 2018 and 2019 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Political Column Awards—is syndicated by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism’s Pandemic Democracy Project. Contact pdp@binjonline.org for more information. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s executive director, and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. Copyright 2020 Jason Pramas. Licensed for use by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and media outlets in its network.