Try as you may, you cannot hide behind a mask

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: CHRISTOPHER MISZCZAK
Is it possible we're getting used to wearing these masks?

One day my first-year psychology teacher stood in front of the classroom.

He held up a glass of water in front his class and asked a question. We were expecting the question, “is this cup half empty or half full?” He instead asked, “how long do you think I will be able to hold this glass of water?” This one moment really stood out to me. It taught me how to think a little bit more critically, creatively, and innovatively. It illustrates that no matter how you look at things, whether it is negative or positive, at the end of the day it does not really matter; what matters a lot more is time and pressure. Most importantly, anyone and everyone has a breaking point.

My own story begins when I went out one weekend and I was having so much fun that I did not even notice that I had a mandatory mask on my face. I went to start having my lunch and practically got the thing messy. I could not help but laugh at myself in this moment. However, this experience got me thinking about how the new normal has become a little too normal. Is it possible that I am starting to get used to it?

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How do these two things relate? I would argue that it is about acclimatization: we get used to looking at the world in a perpetual positive or negative state. It takes the support of good friends to reel us back into an appropriate frame of mind. In this respect, I would argue that it is because of the support of our peers, friends and family that makes holding a glass of water or wearing a mask bearable for long periods of time.

In this case, as it relates back to my own story, it takes the support of good friends to forget about the new normal. To remind us that things are not as bad as we always make them out to be. It happened to the point where I forgot about the mask in the first place. How everything, even for a moment, felt like the old normal.

“The foundations of moral motivations are not the procedural rules on a kind of discourse, but the feelings to which we can rise. As Confucius saw long ago, benevolence or concern for humanity is the indispensable root of it all,” Simon Blackburn, an English academic philosopher, reflected in 2001.

Blackburn was quoted in a book called Doing Right by Phillip C. Hebert. This quote has a lot of meaning for the message that I think is very important to consider. That despite everything that is going on in the world right now, we should not let what is happening diminish our collective ability to simply hope and build a better life. The revelation that I had with my own funny story is that it takes good friends and a great support system. To make us forget about what is happening in the world now. Instead to count our blessings and understand that life is still amazing.

It is fascinating to consider the unique way that this new normal has changed our lives. From everyday meetings being moved to being online, businesses evolving to deliver as a part of their new model. There is even a significant shift in the educational model. Since practically every class that does not require hands on experience, has moved online.

I cannot help but to reflect on my own experience of finding a silver lining in this change. Being able to wake up every morning in my comfortable home and bed. It is also the convenience of being close by to several of the amenities of home. Is this collective experience something that will change the way that education is done overall now? That is a question that I cannot answer, but it is important to consider.

I do not know if I am the right person to have those answers. However, it is in being an optimistic person that I like to have faith that things will always get better. As the societal norm changes, it should not change the way that we treat each other and that collective pursuit for happiness which is so important for so many of us.

Knowing that, I cannot help but wonder — what is your story in this strange but new normal world?