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If we have firmly established one thing in our time together in this space, it's that I'm not the Hard News Guy.

On a regular basis these particular pages are filled with the thoughts of folks far more qualified to let you know how you should cast your ballot and who you should be mad at and why. Me, I'm the guy who recommends we outlaw both pumpkin spice and complaining about pumpkin spice. Because I don't like pumpkin spice and I don't like whining.

So, if you want to read the offerings of one of those Hard News People, typically, all you have to do is find my column and look to the left or right. Or, if you're reading this on some device (I'm assuming, say, an iPad and not your refrigerator, though, if ads are to be believed, that's an option), you can just swipe left or right.

Which will be the only time anyone will have the option or is likely to "swipe right" on me.

However, every now and then, I feel moved to offer up an opinion which can't necessarily be filed under the heading of "goofy ramblings." Which I believe is also the name of an indie rock band I heard on Spotify. I really liked their earlier stuff but then they went commercial and added an electric guitar, so now I'm not so sure.

Anyway, this is one of those times when I offer up a non-goofy (or indie rock) opinion: You should really wear a mask.

I know, they're inconvenient. They fog up my glasses and I can't see. They muffle my voice and my coffee order is always wrong. I can't hear and, well, actually, I can't hear, so, might not be a mask thing.

I'm always forgetting one and having to run back into the house. Or forgetting one and having to run back to the car in the parking lot. Or forgetting where the car is in the parking lot. Again, maybe not a mask thing.

I've made any complaint you have that isn't pseudo-science from that friend of yours who barely made it through Biology in high school and is now spouting off on Facebook or your uncle who thinks the Constitution should be strictly interpreted the way Thomas Jefferson wrote it (might want to Google that one).

And yet, still, in a rare moment of actual responsible adulthoodness (which I am positive and Spell Check agrees is not a word), I always wear a mask. Also, my wife always reminds me, so I've got that going for me. Backup systems are always important, particularly when the initial system is pretty faulty.

Now I realize there are lots of people out there who feel compelled for some very good reason not to wear a mask. There are also people who still think the earth is flat and thousands of folks who work for the US government can all collectively keep a secret about faked moon landings. Those people will not be convinced by anything anybody tells them. And should stay away from the edge lest they fall off and be gobbled up by dragons.

But for the rest of us, I say, well, ya, you really need to wear a mask.

See, the thing is, I think we're thinking about masks the wrong way. Masks aren't worn to keep the wearer safe from people. Masks are worn to keep people safe from the wearer. Doctors don't wear masks to keep themselves from being infected by the folks they're operating on. They wear them to keep from spreading germs to the folks with whose spleens they're playing Show and Tell.

When everyone wears a mask, we're all, as a group, much less likely to transmit a terrible disease that can kill lots of us. It's sort of a matter of each of us depending on all of us. Which, yes, I know, we're not good at. But maybe this time we should try.

If you elect not to wear a mask, you're not being courageous in the face of a silent foe or standing up for your rights. You're needlessly endangering people and encouraging others to do the same. And likely taking advantage of the fact that most people around you are acting responsibly.

So, there you have it. One of my rare forays into Hard News. Don't worry: next week I'll be back to discussing important stuff like just how long into November a person can keep a carved pumpkin on his front porch.

The answer: Christmas.

Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.

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