Some think that American politics is about personalities. Others think it’s about policies. But in reality, it may be about pieces of cloth.

Socializing is also a coping mechanism

Leela Magavi, a psychiatrist based in Newport Beach, California, told Business Insider that for the most part, the mask has become a symbol of American fear and frustration as uncertainty looms over the future course of the virus and the economic recovery.

“Individuals displace their emotions on inanimate objects all the time,” Magavi said. “A lot of times, it’s very painful for people to just express, to even their loved ones, that they are struggling. … And so what happens when people suppress emotions, these emotions, they get displaced onto other things.”

Magavi said she believed the mask has transformed into a symbol that represents the autonomy that has been taken away from so many people. People asserting their choice over whether to wear a mask is an attempt to try to regain control over their lives, she said.

“It has come to a point where I’m seeing individuals come into the clinic saying that ‘the liberals, the Democrats are telling me to wear [the mask] to stifle me and to silence me, and I’m going to speak up, and I’m not going to let them do this to me,'” Magavi said.

On the left, she said people were saying, “Republicans don’t care about other individuals. They are egocentric. They aren’t wearing masks; what are they trying to prove? They are trying to kill everyone.”

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