A few weeks ago, I made the drastic decision of cutting off over ten inches of my hair, justifying the somewhat radical gesture as a way of promoting overall change in my life. After paying my dues to the merciless shears and sitting in a pile of my own hair, I put forth my best acting skills and attempted to convince both the stylist and myself that I was happy with the new cut. Coming into close contact with a mirror, I promptly burst into tears, mourning the loss of the long hair style I had always fashioned with pride. Reflecting upon my attachment to my hair, I realized that I used my long locks as a security blanket, seeking refuge behind the cloak of hair. Whether it be hair, sunglasses, or texting on our cell phones, each and everyone one of us seeks an item to mask ourselves from the uncomfortableness of reality.
On a daily basis, you’ll encounter people wearing sunglasses, whether it be sunny or not. The reasoning behind wearing sunglasses in these situations is not to block out the light but instead to block the looks of other people, regardless of positive or negative glances. It’s common knowledge that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and the wearing of sunglasses does little to open up those windows to the outside world. One of the biggest pet peeves of the older generation is the inability to look someone in the eyes, as almost all contact during their time period revolved around face-to-face interaction. When talking with someone in a close setting, it is important to be able to read their facial expression as a way of understanding the seriousness of the issue or the amount of compassion one feels about the topic of discussion. By masking the eyes, it is impossible to make this intimate connection with your listener, thus masking your true emotions. Whether or not people are aware of this whenever they pull their Oakley’s off of their foreheads, the mask continues to be used each and every time they make this seemingly subconscious decision.
Another subconscious decision that you’re likely to frequently observe is the so adequately named “pretending to text in awkward situations.” With over 3 million fans of the activity on Facebook, almost all of us are guilty of engaging in the act. The root of the issue lies primarily in the concept of masking emotions. Although it’s hard to imagine the stone age before cell phones, it can be assumed that our ancestors were forced to talk to people they didn’t know, actually getting to know other people before their familiar friends arrived. Now, we text in these circumstances, not wanting to let anyone know that we’re feeling awkward and wallflower-like, even though it’s painfully obvious to outsiders. Masking the feelings of inadequacy and anomie, cell phones are our new best friends as together, we take on the world one awkward situation at a time. Relying so heavily on an electronic device is a gamble. Were the device ever to fail us, we’d be forced to turn to exposing our feelings instead, which is a scary thought to some.
I’m not going to try to pretend that I’m not guilty of my fair share of masking, because I am. It’s important to realize that this is a growing problem as people become increasingly unwilling to open up to others and with the advent of technology, it becomes easier as the days go by. Let us all stop hiding behind our own personal masks – whether it be hair, sunglasses, or cell phones – and show people who we really are, weirdness and all. In the spirit of Halloween, it’s time to discard the masks that hide our emotions and true feelings, instead only wearing a disguise that can easily be removed as we wish. It’s not fair to rely on these masks to cover up what we are. That’s what costumes are for, anyways.