It is now one year into the COVID-19 pandemic. One year since I’ve enjoyed seeing faces of people in my world. One year since I was able to share simple, yet meaningful, gestures with friends and strangers that let me acknowledge their presence in my life. You know what I mean: those little gestures of smiles, frowns, and more that let people send unspoken messages and also accent the spoken ones. Our faces are remarkably talented at communicating many emotions and we are starved in our masks from those interactions.
Just the other day, while in the grocery store, I accidentally bumped my cart into another shopper. So nice it would have been for him to see my smile when I apologized. Small? Yes. Meaningless? Anything but. Our world is crowded and we are interacting with others regularly, whether desired or not. The message sent by our facial gestures is the balm that eases these interactions.
If you follow the news, you’ve heard or read of the many senseless acts of violence during this year and it is my belief that much of it happens because we are living in a world of masked, faceless, people. Such a world is one of zombies and monsters, where all we see are eyes without emotions, bodies without faces—the total absence of what we sense as people.
Even more, new persons in our lives are unknown to us. Last month, I was treated for a medical issue by a doctor new to me. She explored parts of my body, yet did so from behind a mask. When I see her at my next appointment, I will not recognize her because I’ve NEVER SEEN HER. What should normally be a low-stress interaction becomes one of interacting with a zombie.
I will survive this pandemic. Life will go on. The day will come when all I write here today will be irrelevant and just a memory—but I remain anxious for that day when we can all rejoin the world, and zombies will only be in the movies.