That is the question, isn't it? As I look around I see an inconsistent use of the mask. Some places are militant about it's use, others quite lackadaisical. This inconsistency stresses me out. The ambivalence from authorities is also frustrating.
Today I was watching the local health report and the discussion of the rising number of cases. One of the news people asked what could be done to mitigate the increasing numbers. The official answered: "Everyone must do their part...say six feet away, wash your hands, wear a face-mask if distancing is not possible. Close proximity is considered being next to a person indoors, for at least 15 minutes."
So health officials are not mandating using masks, but it certainly seems like a good thing to do. When I consider that my average grocery store trip lasts 45 minutes, I'm breathing that enclosed air for a prolonged amount of time. No, I'm not next to the same person the entire time, but how often does one cross paths with the same shopper as one goes up and down the isles? So I wear a mask.
I've decided to err on the side of caution. Maybe it does nothing, maybe it helps. It certainly reminds me to keep my hands off my face. These days, when cleaning measures seem to be more "laissez-faire". One grocery store no longer sanitizes the carts for shoppers. Instead they have cleaning supplies available at the entrance to use at your discretion. Another grocery store usually has a person reminding you the wipes are available at the entrance, but again, store employees are no longer sanitizing carts. No masks are required to shop. One can wear one or not, it's whatever the individual wants. This is not surprising, given that people in authority are making suggestions, rather than strict mandates.
Once wearing seat belts was this way. I'm old enough to have traveled un-tethered in the back seat of the family vehicle. One gripped the front seat, an arm rest, or the loop that hung from the ceiling, and one survived. Cars didn't come standard with seat belts, and car seats had not been invented. Then came the era of public service announcements on the benefits of seat belt safety. People balked. Laws came into place and the "Click it or ticket" catch phrase caught on. Wearing seat belts became the thing to do. For many years I have not given this a second thought. It is second nature to get in the car and put on the seat belt.
Back to mask wearing. So why do it? I'm going to do it because I want to protect myself and my neighbor. What if I am asymptomatic? I feel fine, but I can't get a test unless I exhibit symptoms. So until more testing is available, I will wear a mask. It isn't always about protecting yourself. Sometimes you do it to protect your neighbor. It's a small inconvenience to help, just in case.