On January 20, 2020, the CDC confirmed the first cases of Covid-19 (originating in the City of Wuhan, China) in the United States. Expeditious and diligent research and development successfully produced an effective vaccine and the Nation, and the World, developed and commenced, general prophylactic and curative protocols to treat and prevent the spread of the disease, which disease had intensified to the level of a “pandemic.”
It was empirically determined that wearing a well-fitting mask, along with the administration of the newly developed vaccine and physical distancing, helped protect the individual and others from the disease. Since such time, compliant citizens, wishing to avoid the illness and its possible spread to others, have wisely and dutifully, ascribed to the uniform practice of wearing a facial mask in all public appearances. We have nevertheless, not been able [despite respecting its salubrious purpose] to avoid the feeling upon continuously seeing uniform crowds of unidentified, masked individuals, as somehow, eerily dystopic, as often portrayed in science fiction or horror movies.
It may be the strange mystery of unfamiliar uniformity and the absolute unanimity of such previously unheard of practice, which still appears eerie and at times, no less than extraterrestrial. There are no neighborly faces to confirm, no polite smiles, a dearth of guttural communication and a surfeit of energetic head movements, the latter, as ersatz vocabulary. There is no doubt about the mask’s absolute necessity (except for thoughtless and irresponsible complaints about alleged feelings of loss of “liberty” from citizens of the Nation, who really should know better). Yet the scenario, nevertheless, remains mysterious and anti- (or, “un”) social.
Removed (with valid medical reason) from sight, are those portions of the physiognomy, customarily utilized to impart expression or reaction, and meaningful interface (or is it, “inter –mask”) communication is barely possible. Not only is there a dearth of the usual “small talk,” but, often an actual lack of identity between the muted, putative conversationalists.
Masks are effective roadblocks to the communication of human reaction, emotion, agreement or the opposite, attraction and love, interest, boredom, apathy, care, approval or otherwise, degree of emphasis or significance, or human reactive communication. It may generally, be said, that the (necessary) protective action of masking, has the dual negative effects of arresting normal societal interaction, as well as the intended disease. We find, especially strange, the sight of group of young masked toddlers, looking like identical Russian toys, dystopic and mechanical.
The significant losses directly attributable to this continuing, horrific, viral event, in addition to the most tragic, viz., the losses of life and health, are beyond counting. Oversubscription of hospitals and clinics, career and economic loss, academic and school loss, business failure, political complications, and aggravated divisiveness, family and organizational disruption, travel restrictions and their proscription, theatrical failure, and cancellation of public events, business loss and insolvency, product and food shortages, limitation in social interaction, economic inflation, mortgage and debt defalcation, frustrated business transactions, and a veritable plethora, of regrettable others.
Although not definitively included, among the worst implications of the pandemic, for whatever it is worth, the empirically mandated, “masquerade” phenomenon nevertheless, is the most cinematic.