Why Masks are a Good Thing: The Return of Eye Contact

I’ve been trying to think of why masks are a good thing. Well besides the whole obvious thing of keeping people safe and helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. There are a lot of negatives when it comes to masks. Such as it makes it hard to breathe, fogs up your glasses, and well, probably more. I didn’t want to think about the negatives. Then a week or so ago, I realized that there is one good thing that came out of wearing masks and that is this:

People now have to look other people in the eyes when they talk. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed (you probably have, tbh), but everyone is on their phones. Even when people are having dinner or at home they are on their phones. Hell, most of the time I am on my phone browsing Facebook or Instagram or reading on Archive of Our Own or Fanfiction.net when I’m watching a television show or movie. I usually put the phone down when I’m watching something I haven’t seen before.

The point is, hardly anyone looks up from their phone — even when they are talking to someone else. Technology is amazing, don’t get me wrong. It allows me to keep in touch with my friends in Massachusetts, New York, and Oklahoma. But at times, I feel like technology is cold. It lacks intimacy and we are so focused on our phones, we don’t know what’s happening around us.

There is a sort of intimacy that has been lost for a while that has now been brought back thanks to masks. Sure, people are still on their phones. But now, they have to look up if they are talking to someone in order to really listen to the person since they are both wearing masks. Wearing a mask, even if you have a loud voice, muffles your speech. So when you talk to someone you have to pause your phone and look at them so you can really hear what they are saying.

I’ve caught myself doing this. I’ll be talking to someone who is wearing a mask and put my phone down so I can actually focus on what is coming out of their mouth. There’s eye contact and it’s great. You can see that that person is listening to you all in their eyes.

I’d like to challenge you for one hour to put down your phone and not look at it. Whether you’re watching a movie or a show or just hanging out with friends or whatever. Put down the phone for one hour. My cousin Paige and I did this yesterday when we watched a movie called I See You. It was nice to just watch the movie, and enjoy the movie, without the intrusion of a phone. It’s definitely something I’m going to do more of. I feel like I am on my phone a lot when I could be doing something more engaging and creative and productive.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year’s! We made it past the year called 2020. Here’s to hoping that 2021 will be a better year.

-K

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