Are People Ruder When Wearing Masks?

Is it me, or have you noticed that since the pandemic, people have become less cordial and almost downright rude while wearing masks?

I first noticed this several months into the pandemic when I was at my local grocery store. It seemed like people didn’t bother to even say “excuse me” when they nearly bumped into me or say “thank you” when I opened a door for them, let alone even mumble “hello” or “good morning” when passing by.

I live in the south where people tend to have the curtesy to speak to each other in passing, probably more so than they do in other parts of America so at first, I was amazed at how quickly people seemed to have change once they felt partially hidden.

Think about it, wearing a face mask isn’t that far off from wearing a Halloween or custom mask. People wear masks during Halloween and at custom parties because it allows them in some sense to be hide their identity, thus allowing them to act out of character. Some people will say that it allows them to be someone else while others will say that it allows the person to be more of who they really are and not the person they feel they have to present to society.

In the same vein, I feel like face mask do that to some degree. People who would normally smile and be polite in the grocery aisle now feel no obligation to be polite. I noticed this even more so when I started my new job in the hospital. I would say good morning to people and half of the time they wouldn’t even acknowledge me, let alone speak back.

I do know that sometimes with a mask on it’s hard to hear and understand people, especially with not being able to see their lips moving so I do take that into account, but it happens way too often to dismiss it as people just not hearing me clearly. I do know also that masks hinder communication to a great degree.

A lot of the way we communicate is nonverbal. We read a lot from a persons expressions and we tend to look at the whole face for understanding and not just the eyes. The eyes and mouth work together to communicate feelings. The mouth in general is more expressive when it comes to showing emotions.

Perhaps, wearing a mask makes it easier for people to not see us, look right past us or find it not as important to connect with us even briefly. In the past, when I would go to the grocery store or the mall and want to be in my own world, shutting out everyone else, I would put my headphones on. Now, I kind of feel like putting on a mask does the same thing. Once I put on a mask I feel less exposed and less obligated to acknowledge strangers. I recognize that, but still have the curtesy to be polite. I’m just curious to if anyone else has had this experience.