Mask of Fear
Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders; Claustrophobia, the fear of closed spaces; Ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, all are very common phobias in America. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 10% of Americans have some kind of phobia. I happen to be in that 10%. I suffer from maskaphobia, the fear of people wearing masks. It used to be that I only had to avoid going out at Halloween or the occasional Mardi Gras party but now I can’t even go for a walk on the greenbelt.
I’m not proud of this, but my fear has even led to an irrational prejudice against people that wear masks. When I drive to the grocery store and I see someone pushing their cart full of groceries while wearing a mask, I panic. Something just doesn’t seem right.
It’s hard to say where this fear started. Maybe because growing up, the people I feared most were Darth Vader, Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th and Ghostface from Scream. The good guys like Luke Skywalker and Superman didn’t need to wear a mask. I was raised to believe that wearing a mask was for the cowardly who needed to hide their identity. In the real world, good guys don’t wear masks either. Police officers, teachers, psychologists, governors and presidents are all bare-faced. Let’s face it, just a month ago, if you had walked into a bank and saw two men standing at the counter in masks, you would have turned right around and called the police. Now, I feel like the masked men would call the police on me, the unmasked.
The amount of people now wearing masks has skyrocketed to a level that I am very uncomfortable with. Is this really what we want the future to look like? People are now wearing masks in places that don’t even make sense to wear masks. I’ve seen people walking alone in nature wearing masks and yesterday I even spotted someone alone in their car wearing a mask. Who are you protecting and who are you worried about needing protection from? Can a car be asymptomatic?
Imagine dating in this new world of masks. When you meet someone, not that you can meet people anymore, but let’s say you start vibing with the person at the drive through. Do you ask for a driver’s license to see what they look like before asking for a date? It’s going to be a lot harder to brag to your friends that you got to first base when that just means that you got her mask off.
I know that the reason people are wearing masks are for the health and safety of themselves and others, but I am really struggling with what the new normal is supposed to look like. I hope it looks a lot like the old normal. There are some positives that are coming from this. For example, I like having fewer meetings but more emails. I really like the fun backgrounds for Zoom meetings but the masks are scary looking and they’re something that I just can’t get behind, no matter the health benefits.
I recently heard that some people want to mandate that masks be worn in public which really freaks me out. If the government wants to track my movements with an app, that’s fine. If they need to take my temperature before they will let me into to a football game, that’s fine too. I’m even okay with the continued limiting of toilet paper purchasing, but forcing me to wear a mask is where I draw the line. Bottom line, they look mean.
If you’re reading this in a mask, I probably won’t convince you and I hope that you will take that mask off when this is over. For everyone else, please don’t cover your face. Your spouse may be sick of it, but I’m not and I think you should show some skin… you know, on your face.