By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the concept of online challenges that gain popularity and sweep across various social media sites. We’ve seen it happen for years now, going way back to the Cinnamon Challenge and the Ice Bucket Challenge. And we all know that not all challenges are created equally. You don’t have to be a viral star to make a viral challenge. You don’t even have to be particularly smart.
That brings us to a new challenge that people are trying to get off the ground these days. It’s called the Burn Your Mask Challenge and it involves, well, burning masks. Here’s what we know about the new challenge, as well as some good reasons why you’re probably better off skipping it.
What is the Burn Your Mask Challenge?
The Burn Your Mask Challenge can be traced to North Carolina. On Monday, June 15, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that he is considering requiring residents of the state to wear masks when they leave their homes (a measure that has been adopted in several areas throughout the country). While masks are currently not required for North Carolina residents, the idea that they could be was enough to rankle some members of the ReOpen NC group.
ReOpen NC is a group of people who have been advocating for the state to reopen and return to business as normal, despite the fact that North Carolina is currently in Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions and returning to “business as normal” could endanger thousands of lives.
On Tuesday, June 16, Ashley Smith (a leader of the ReOpen NC Facebook group) took to Facebook to announce the Burn Your Mask Challenge.
“As you know we’re a group against mandatory anything, and we’re for personal liberty and the Constitution and personal freedom,” she said on the private Facebook group’s page.
Ashley’s post was accompanied by a video of her lighting a medical face mask on fire and placing it in a cast-iron skillet. In an interview with WFMY News, Ashley calls the Burn Your Mask Challenge a “bold statement.” Her idea appears to be to encourage other people who do not want to wear masks to burn them as part of the challenge.
“This comes down to an issue of rights, and what the Constitution guarantees American citizens and it is my right to buy property and destroy it,” she said. She did not appear to comment on the wastefulness of the challenge, or on whether the Constitution also guarantees American citizens the right to endanger others’ lives in the interest of making a “bold statement” on Facebook.
If you also want to disregard the advice of epidemiologists and government leaders in favor of the opinions of, say, people who run a Facebook group, there are other ways to get rid of masks that don’t require burning them. Perhaps you could consider donating any extra masks you have to a hospital or other medical facility. They will certainly be in need of them, especially if more people choose to burn their own masks and cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.