It may be one of the most talked about local Facebook Groups in the history of local Facebook history groups. But as of late Tuesday night, the Schuylkill County Mask Watch group is finished.
Admins of the group got fed up with what they call “hate” and bullying directed their way and decided to close up shop, as it were.
We reported on the group on Monday. By Tuesday, nearly everyone heard about it and many weren’t happy with its existence.
The group went from 450 members on Monday to more than 900 when it closed down at the end of the day on Tuesday. Its final day was mostly spent banning people who joined to give admins and members a hard time about what they were doing.
The creator of the group posted late Tuesday, “Farewell all. Hopefully all the many who seek safe businesses who listen to their wants as consumers are able to find new places to share and exchange ideas since freedom of speech is only welcome if you are wearing the red hats.
“Know that the movement has not died and it will never die so long as selfishness is put above empathy and compassion. Let it serve as a monument to those who tried and in the future, those who have died.”
Schuylkill County Mask Watch Group Shuts Down Quickly
We actually think a list of businesses that are following public health guidelines isn’t a bad idea. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t sure if it’s safe for them to venture out into public, let alone do some shopping. Some kind of reassurance might get them back to some sense of normal. And having such a list of businesses may be a key first step.
The key to such a list, however, is that it should be generated from information submitted by businesses. Let them tell the public what they’re doing. Most already do that in some way through their own social media pages, their websites, in emails to customers, and from signs hanging outside and around their shops.
But that’s not what Schuylkill County Mask Watch was by any stretch.
As we pointed out, half the members who were happy the group existed were highly politicized fear mongers and snitches. They called people who didn’t like the tone of the group “covidiots”. And they endlessly lectured people who questioned their motive.
In addition to being the mask police, they wanted to be the thought police, too. And while some of the naysayers probably took their critiques a bit too far, most just wanted to be able to make their own decisions on personal safety. They felt others should do the same.
Not good enough for the mask/thought police in Schuylkill County Mask Watch.
The longer the group was active, the more emboldened and virtuous its top members got.
To those naysayers, admins and other frequent commentators there constantly reminded them that they apparently care about other people more than those who didn’t like the idea of the mask group or who think masks are all that effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
They even went so far as to suggest that by wearing masks, they’re actively saving lives.
Bad and Worst Case Scenarios of Mask Snitching
So, why all the fuss over some group on Facebook? Well, for starters, the group doubled in size in a day. Its messaging was reaching more people by the hour. But what types of messages were those people getting.
Again, it wasn’t information from businesses. It came from random people who joined the group with potentially ulterior motives, at worst, and misleading information, at best.
Imagine: You’re a business owner and someone who doesn’t like you or just wants to cause trouble, drives by your business and sees one of your employees not wearing a mask. It could be just for a few minutes (or seconds) that their mask is off.
If the person driving by wants attention or to cause trouble, it takes them seconds to whip out their phone, snap a photo, and then post it to the group.
That post grows in popularity. Perhaps, others chime in with their alleged experiences with your business.
In no time at all, someone could be accusing you of putting your employees’ lives at risk. Another person could be reporting you to the state for alleged health violations. Talk about your headaches.
In a best case scenario, you find out about the misleading post and have to waste part of your day defending your business that doesn’t need any defending.
Local businesses in Schuylkill County struggle to get through the day on a normal day under normal circumstances. For many, the pandemic makes it even more tense. Each day could be the last.
And the last thing any of them need is someone destroying their business because of what they perceive as health code violations that don’t meet their standards.