Our Masks Remove Another Mask?

BY: CLAIRE KIM

David Matsumoto, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University, states that “facial expressions of all kinds are a very important component of human interaction”. And truly, I agree with this statement, but only to a certain extent.

Just as how text messages are limited in expressing one’s personal emotions, the covering of one’s mouth and nose definitely makes it difficult for an individual to fully showcase their present conditions, often leading to misunderstandings. And while some may say that the crinkling of our eyes can portray our emotions readily, honestly, it’s irrefutable that the shape of our mouth produces the most distinct expression of all our facial features. I mean how can you misinterpret a smile?

With masks becoming a part of daily fashion, daily conversations have inevitably changed, becoming more based on small gestures or tone shifts to interpret emotions rather than facial expressions. To understand a cheerful hello, a smile or grin is not the basis of understanding, but rather the high-pitched tone executed or the simple “waving” hand gesture made by the approaching person. Words have essentially grown more important, more meaningful now, and this might actually not be a bad thing.

In fact, the more I think about it, putting less of an impact on physical responses (facial expressions or changes in appearance) might allow us to communicate more thoughtfully and more honestly than ever before. Knowing that our smiles or pouty faces are not seen, we become more conscious of our words and the way we express them to ensure that they aren’t taken the wrong way. This growing awareness has allowed us to abandon tendencies of “fakeness” in our responses, removing the supposed “mask” we hide behind when talking with one another. In other words, we are becoming more real in our conversations.

Wearing a real mask to protect one another in times of the pandemic, we have unknowingly removed a “mask” that shields our conversations from being genuine and raw. What intended irony we got here… and honestly, it’s one to be intrigued about.

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