As we head into the holiday season, there’s an important reminder to be found in a recent social media exchange involving two Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools board members.
School board member Dana Jones recently visited Myrtle Beach, S.C., where she and her husband, David, went out to dinner and listened to a band. David Jones posted a photo of the band on Facebook. This prompted criticism from another school board member, Andrea Bramer, who wrote on Facebook, "I am using my bullhorn and publicly shaming her. How dare she be so selfish and entitled? So she risks our lives so she can enjoy hers. Perfect behavior for a public servant? Really?"
Jones responded that she and her husband had taken proper safety precautions during the evening. They had a separate table away from the crowd, but within listening distance. “I did not think people would spin it and skew it in such a hateful way," she wrote in reply.
Bramer deleted her critical post, but sour feelings likely remain.
We’re not so much interested in the personalities involved as the situation.
Everyone’s feeling a little prickly these days, and those making conscientious sacrifices for the common good are likely to get riled by those who seem dismissive of the danger — or, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who violated the restrictions he’d been pushing in his state to attend a party in November, hypocritical.
This ire is an understandable reaction.
It’s also tiring to keep these uncomfortable masks on and maintain a safe social distance. It's understandable that some may lapse in their vigilance out of sheer exhaustion.
On top of that, the perception of safety can vary from individual to individual. Six feet may feel like 6 inches to some; 6 miles to others.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take safety precautions seriously.
But calling people out is risky business — especially when some are determined to practice their ignorance and, in fact, seek confrontation. Confrontation can escalate. In some cases, it has led to violence.
Yes, it’s wrong to ignore the rules, but we bystanders can’t fix everything. Sometimes the safest and smartest thing to do is let it go and walk away — especially if it occurs on social media, where we may not have all the facts. As we warn our children.
Judge Judy Sheindlin of “Judge Judy” TV fame recently told the New York Post about confronting a man who was not wearing his mask at a hair salon.
“I walked up to him and he looked at me and smiled,” she said. “I was wearing my mask with my smock on and my hair was dripping wet. I said to him, ‘Do you like Judge Judy?' He said, ‘Oh yes,’ and I said, ‘Not after today,’ and I proceeded to lace into him about respecting other people and how other people are minding you by wearing a mask. I said to him, ‘You must be some kind of narcissist or there’s something that I don’t see that makes you unique and special.’ ”
The man, she said, put on a mask and apologized.
That’s an exchange for the ages. But not everyone has Sheindlin’s gravitas, nor would even she achieve such an outcome every time. For most of us, it’s best to practice a little discretion and, if we can manage it, a forgiving attitude.
Finally, we should remember that one of the best ways to promote safe behavior is to model it.
It would make Santa proud.