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.

Post Pandemic Mental Health Struggles

Post Pandemic Mental Health Struggles

Over the last year we have all been through collective trauma dealing with the global pandemic.

Many of us went through stressful moments with the lockdown bringing isolation for some, loss of income for others and increased anxiety, depression and substance use for others. Some of us have gotten sick or even worse, lost friends, family members or coworkers.

Now that there are vaccinations and restrictions are starting to lift in certain areas, you may think that everyone is feeling better, a sense of relief or hope, but that is simply not true for some individuals.

A lot of people are ecstatic about being able to gather with their family and friends without masks. Those who were working from home are excited about going back into the office and socializing face to face with their coworkers. Those who were feeling down or anxious are starting to feel their mood brighten, but for some , they are still struggling with the affects of this collective trauma. They may still be feeling down or anxious and some have reason to be. Just this weekend I was talking to a friend who had recently attended the funeral of his uncle who died from the virus a week prior. He, understandably still has some anxiety about the world reopening although he himself is vaccinated.

Healing from this collective trauma will take more time for some people and what will help is being in tune with ourselves and focusing on what we can control versus what we can’t. We have to find out what works for us to ease our anxiety and make us feel better.

For some people that may mean having a digital detox, limiting how much news they intake, exercising or focusing on better sleep hygiene.

It’s Okay to Say That You’re Not Okay

Over the weekend I had a long conservation with someone I go to the gym with about his struggles with mental illness, depression and even suicidal thoughts. We talked about how he joined the gym as soon as it reopened as a way to cope with some of the depression and negative thoughts he had been battling since before the pandemic, but had grown even more so during the pandemic.

Halfway through our conversation he told me that it felt good to have someone to talk to without feeling like he was being judged. Although I was glad to be there for him, I felt sad that he felt like he didn’t have anyone else he could open up to.

Nowadays there is so much assess to mental health help and actionable information through things like Google’s self-assessments, that it is my hope that everyone who needs help will assess it and realize that they are not alone.

A lot of people who were anxious, lonely or depressed before the pandemic, grew more anxious, lonely or depressed during the pandemic and will continue to have those uneasy feelings and thoughts even when the people and world around them returns to normalcy.

It’s important that we look out for our family members and friends who may not be as excited or comfortable with the transition out of the pandemic. For some of them, a return to normality is a return to battling their mental health issues.