I feel like the concept of "hygiene theater" is experiencing a bit of semantic drift.

And while I don’t own the phrase in any way, I think it’s worth clarifying what I meant by it.
“Hygiene theater” is firms/govts spending $$ to fight the virus where it doesn’t thrive (surfaces) & rejecting a science-based approach (ventilation, etc), in a way that creates direct & indirect victims (eg, closed transit, or 'clean restaurant tables innoculate me from COVID').
People wearing masks in CVS isn’t hygiene theater. It’s fine.

There’s a wide distribution of immuno-health, cleanliness preferences, germophobia, and neuroticism in every country. That preference distribution isn’t “theater.” Most of it is just fine.
Let’s call it “hygiene polarization”: the widening distribution of health risk and germophobia in this stage of the pandemic.

It’s happening, and it’s interesting. It’s just not hygiene “theater.”

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @DKThomp

14 Jun
My latest on how the WFH revolution will change
- the psychology of work
- the relative power of introverts and extroverts in the office
- the aesthetic of the suburbs
- and the most important trend is US politics today: education polarization

Some survey data to back up the claims:


WFH isn't going away. The percentage of paid full days worked from home peaked at 60% last spring but is projected to remain above 20%—about 4x higher than before the pandemic.
Why is WFH projected to remain so high?

Because—despite some research claiming that per-hour productivity declined—most white-collar workers said it flat-out worked.

86% of surveyed Americans said WFH met or surpassed their expectations (during a pandemic!)
Read 7 tweets
11 Jun
I'm a die-hard Federer homer, so it brings me no joy to say this, but sometime between right now and in 10 years, it's going to be boring conventional wisdom that Novak Djokovic is the GOAT.
The last decade is the so-called age of the Big Three in tennis. But here's weeks ranked #1 since 2010:

Djokovic: 324
Nadal: 163
Federer: 48
No doubt Fed absolutely crushed the 2000s, and it's a shame his prime didn't overlap more perfectly with Nadal and Djokovic so we could do a real apples-to-apples, peak-to-peak comparison.
Read 4 tweets
27 May
Rents are springing back in all the hardest hit cities


Monthly rents are up about 4% or more in:
- Boston
- SF
- Chicago
- Seattle
The pandemic put big-metro urban rents in a time machine back to 2011.

In the last six months, urban rents stepped back into the time machine and jumped forward to about 2017.

At this rate, they'll be back in the 2020s by the end of the year.
"Our national rent index is up by 2.3 percent month-over-month, the largest single month increase ever recorded … the third straight month in which that record has been broken.”


Pandemic pricing is over. Cities are gonna get a lot more expensive.
Read 4 tweets
21 May
I wrote about the Texas mask mystery


When Gov. Abbott lifted the state’s mandate, liberals predicted disaster. Disaster never came. What does that really tell us?
Explanation 1: Lifting mandates did very little, because masks do very little.

This is the interpretation that conservatives are most excited about, but I'm persuaded by the evidence that masks do important work to block an aerosolized virus.
Explanation 2: Lifting mandates did very little, because weather effects and vaccines were already kneecapping the virus in Texas.

I think this one more, but I think the Texas mask mystery is telling us something a bit more profound about public behavior ...
Read 7 tweets
17 May
Weeks ago, Gov. Abbott made Texas the first state to abolish its mask mandate and lift capacity constraints for all businesses.

So, what changed?

Nothing. There was ~no effect on COVID cases, employment, mobility, or retail foot traffic, in either liberal or conservative areas.
Some possible interpretations:

1) Individual behavior is more important than state mandates: TX policy change didnt get pro-mask ppl to ditch their mask, and anti-maskers had already ditched theirs

2) Warm weather (& luck) made it less consequential to abolish mask mandates
3) A social influence theory: Liberals were waiting on Fauci/CDC/NYT for permission to de-mask, while conservatives had long ago ditched theirs. Abbott took his cues from the latter, but that meant his edict responded to conservative behavior rather than guide liberal behavior.
Read 4 tweets
14 May
The CDC went from recommending outdoor masking (way too precautious!) to triggering a cascade of indoor unmasking (seems a little early!) in like 17 days without any material change in the underlying science.
I don’t want to be “whatever the CDC says, I’m against” guy. But let’s just agree there is empirically no internal consistency to these positions, it’s just lurching from hyper-neuroticism to YOLO. This might as well be public health guidance by magic eight ball.
The right way to nudge the vax hesitant is to tell people the truth—the vaccines work very well—and let states offer benefits.

It's not to swing wildly toward unmasked indoor spaces in the hopes that it serves as a bankshot to persuade the skeptical.

Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!