If there is one visible element that epitomizes the drastic change in our lifestyles due to the pandemic, it is the massive use of masks. Our new, almost faceless society, opens up a whole new perspective on personal interactions, as some studies suggest that the covering of faces may raise suspicion between people. On the other hand, COVID-19 managed to slip through humanity’s mask to reveal our egoistic behavior, giving us an opportunity to rise above the external barriers between us and penetrate deep into each other’s hearts.
Wearing masks to prevent coronavirus contagion is a cultural paradigm strange to us in the Western world so “we may initially become extremely distrustful of one another,” said Francis Dodsworth, U.K. senior criminologist at the University of Kingston, in the current context when scholars around the world debate on how this new social condition will impact interpersonal relationships.
The face, just like the entire body, conveys information that helps us absorb non-verbal communication clues. The face helps us understand the other and know who is the person in front of us, and what are his sentiments and intentions. Therefore, the requirement to wear masks in public places because of the coronavirus has cut down on interpersonal message transmission and obstructed the non-verbal communication between us.
A Blessing in Disguise
I, for one, think that our mask-wearing reality is a good and interesting situation. It is beneficial to understand that we do not know or recognize the person in front of us. It is better to relate to the person as a stranger whom we do not really understand. After all, we do not know another’s desires and intentions — we have no clue or way to know.
Such a foggy situation demands of us to conclude that we simply have to make a big effort to know the person behind the mask. We should reach a level of communication that will activate an internal demand in us so that the person in front of us will open his heart. We should not look for signs in the other’s facial expressions, a smile or twist of the person’s mouth, all this is external. Rather, we should connect to the other person’s heart, and then we will feel certain that they mean well toward us. And if we behave with the same good intention toward others, in mutual responsibility, cooperation, and a positive attitude, we will not need any more masks or disguises because trust will be built.
COVID-19 is very sly. Its actions are not merely a biological matter, but through matter, the virus is operating on us and teaching us how to be human. Nature, as shown by the coronavirus, demands of us to change our interpersonal connections. If we maintain good interactions between us, we will be able to enjoy mutually beneficial relations. If we make no effort to improve the quality of our interactions, we will not be able to come closer to one another in any shape or form. We will be blocked from each other, unable to communicate, with an enormous sense of rejection that we will be unable to bond above, even without a mask and inches away from each other.
In order to reach the correct form of communication between us — which is the solid basis for any relationship — we must change and adapt ourselves to the standardized form of interaction that exists in nature, which is symbiotic and cooperative. Our next stage will be to create something more qualitative than a give-and-take connection, to focus our connections on truly benefiting others through a bond rooted in friendship and closeness of hearts.
Until our hearts are close and we consider ourselves as one society characterized by consideration and good attitude, we will continue to wear masks. In fact, what we need to do right now is pull a curtain over all our selfish desires and communicate heart-to-heart with our fellow people through the cover over our egotistical desires. It means that the intention and thoughts should be for the benefit of others and not at their expense. As we pull the curtain over any egotistical desires that pop up, we will gradually open our hearts to one another, like a channel of positive communication and understanding. Then humanity will put its best face forward.