A recent op-ed by James Grisolia, MD, made me think about masks and what they are doing to our social life. On the one hand, they allow us to promote our politics or hobbies or even to hide behind a swath of color. As Grisolia puts it so well: “Without faces, we work in a sea of muted detachment.” Masking eliminates casual social interaction, causing people to look past each other. They make it hard to recognize people who are already familiar, not to mention those who are not.
As a surgeon, I became used to wearing a mask while I worked. But after work, those masks came off. What I am not used to, is not seeing people smile. This became very obvious to me a short time ago, when I met a new person at an outdoor church. We were both wearing masks, and though we had a friendly chat, it felt a bit stilted. After a couple of masked encounters at church, we met for an outdoor dinner. When he took off his mask, his smile blew me away! Pre-COVID friends and acquaintances have already imprinted their expressions and smiles on your brain, which allows you to visualize their faces through their masks. I worry about the new people we meet; will we miss out on new friendships because we can’t see the smile behind the mask?
While we all can’t wait for the day when daily mask-wearing is a thing of the past, we must continue to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask while in public. With a donation of $75, you’ll receive a Dr. Susan Love Foundation mask so that you can #SharetheLOVE and not the germs! Click here to donate.