4/13/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

My seven-month-old great nephew has never seen my face. Every time I visit, he anxiously stares at my masked visage and wrinkles his little brow in a prelude to a wail. Not only does my covered nose and mouth seem to make him uncomfortable, but it also means I can’t make silly faces to get a giggle out of him or kiss his sweet, chubby cheeks. I wonder if he’ll even know me when the mask finally comes off, once and for all.

The Kindness of Strangers

There are so many things that we’ve missed over the past year (people, holidays, hugs – to name a few), but – with faces hidden by masks in COVID – people’s faces are high on most lists. Masks have obscured our recognition to the point that we might not know our neighbors in the grocery store. However, more importantly, masks have also made it challenging for us to express happiness, sadness, anger or excitement to our friends and family. When we need the kindness of strangers more than ever, masks have even made it impossible to cast a friendly look to guy waiting beside us in the checkout line or the kid we pass on the street.

In fact, seeing someone’s whole face is so important that some healthcare workers have started attached smiling photos of themselves to their scrubs to assure uneasy patients that there is indeed a human behind the mask (or wearing smile masks!).

The Importance of a Face Mask in the Age of COVID

Masking Our Individuality

In normal times, most people would notice – and remember – an interesting face or two when they ran an errand or had a meal out. But these days with faces hidden by masks in COVID, masks wipe out our individuality. The strangers with whom we make contact each day simply become a stew of faceless bodies. It’s tantamount to making people invisible.

We’re All in This Together

But there’s an upside to all this homogeny. In the midst of the chaos and calamity, wearing these fabric and paper shields on our faces also gives us an odd sense of unity. Looking around and seeing everyone doing the same uncomfortable, inconvenient and highly irregular thing connects us and, in so doing, unexplainably comforts us.

You could say misery loves company, but I prefer to say that we’re all in this together!

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones