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Like Groundhog Day, but with a mask

For years we have been reading articles about how Twitter contributes to polarizing the political debate: we share more the controversial messages that appeal to our emotions and divide us into camps, leaving those that offer meeting points forgotten and relegated. The company itself has been trying to combat this toxic environment for some time to promote what it calls “healthier, more open and educated conversations”.

Well, the new CEO of the company, Parag Agrawal, could look at what happened on Twitter this Wednesday afternoon: for a few hours almost everyone agreed. The miracle was worked by Pedro Sánchez, President of the Government of Spain, who brought together Spaniards from all over the country and from all political tendencies. Against him, but he twinned them. It was after the announcement that the outdoor mask will be mandatory again, a measure that was not liked by doctors, journalists, comedians, or almost anyone who had the Twitter app installed on their mobile.

To give you an idea, they tweeted against Isabel Díaz Ayuso, president of the Madrid community; Íñigo Errejón, deputy of Más País, and Gabriel Rufián, spokesman for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya in Parliament. There were calls for insubordination and reflections on how this decision fueled denial messages. And many expressed the opinion that it is a cosmetic measure, to give the impression that something is being done.

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What about Sánchez has merit. Any other announcement would have provoked politicized discussions: the covid passport, the capacity limitation, teleworking … But no, the president hit the only decision in which it was difficult to find someone who agreed. Those most sympathetic to the announcement recalled that in crowds it is a good idea to take it … But that is already included in the current norm. And others pointed out, not without reason, that it must be almost impossible to put all the regional presidents in agreement, given the disparity of opinions. But no one said it was easy or, as @DaniBordas tweeted, “putting the autonomous communities firmly in order to reinforce public health is more of a mess.”

Twitter is not the real world, although it is part of it, and surely there are people who see this measure very well. But from the tweets, it seemed that the debate about the outdoor mask was as far behind as disinfecting the escalators of the subway or closing the parks. So much so that a Newsfresh article was shared several hundred times in which Manuel Ansede collected the opinion of experts on the matter: “Top scientists question the mandatory mask outdoors and at a distance”. And the phrase with which the text began was spread especially: “Wearing the mask outdoors and putting it in your pocket when entering a bar is like wearing a helmet to walk and taking it off to ride a motorcycle.” Well, this article is from April. This is like Groundhog Day, although at least in Stuck in time Bill Murray learned something and ended up playing the piano wonderfully.

Being optimistic, it may all be Sánchez's strategy so that we can spend Christmas without arguing with family and friends whom we can see these days. “Let them hate us, but do not hate each other,” the president would have said, pounding the table with his fist and aware of the sacrifice he was making. Perhaps that is the true meaning of Christmas: criticizing the Government.

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