Dr. Nathan T. Morton
I Miss Your Stupid Face
Updated: Mar 18, 2021
*Disclaimer: I’m going to use the word ‘stupid’ too much.
Everybody everywhere at some place and at some time is wearing a face mask. I don’t know about you, but I miss facial expressions. The most ignorant thing I have heard the last 12 months is this: “you can still see their expressions in their eyes.”
When communicating with people who have ARF (angry resting face) the eyes tell you nothing and after a year of masks I can assure you that pretty much everyone has ARF.
The young man said to his date, “I know you have a mask on, but I can see the twinkle in your eyes.” Shut up! No, you can’t!
If you are honest you have to admit that the face mask, the loss of the bottom half of our countenance, has adversely affected our social interactions and divided us even more than we were ever divided before.
According to Robin Blades from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, “It turns out we are not only less able to recognize one another, but we also see each other as less human. It is harder to recognize emotions correctly and we tend to over-perceive anger. Physical masks may even exacerbate racial bias.” She believes masks disrupt holistic processing.
According to social psychologist Kurt Hugenberg, “If your car differed from the other cars in the parking lot by just a couple of millimeters or centimeters, you would never find it,” but finding your friend in a crowd is no problem” — thanks to holistic processing. It allows us to tell each other apart easily, even though our faces are objectively extremely similar. This sort of holistic face processing sends a signal that a person is a person. It provides this flash of recognition of the humanness of another person and when we undermine that ability to recognize a face as a face, it takes away — at least in part — some of its humanity.”
Not only am I tired of smelling my own bad breath, more significantly, I miss seeing people’s faces, their emotions, and their humanity.
What boggles my mind is the intellectual idiocy that tries to spin this incredible negative into a positive. Psychology Today published this unbelievably stupid article entitled The Hidden Benefits of Hiding Your Face Behind a Mask. When I first came across the article I assumed the list would be ‘tongue in cheek’ including such things as, the ability to avoid facial recognition software, being able to slip out of a Taylor Swift concert without being recognized, secretly cry during a Hallmark movie, or the obvious rob a bank, but no!
The Psychology Today article was actually serious listing such benefits as spending less money and time on facial hygiene, not being able to read the emotions of others, and others not being able to read your own emotions--as if those were good things.
I don't believe I am alone when I say I want to see your expressions and I want you to see mine. I could say it more eloquently but after a year I’m just going to say it this way, “I miss your stupid face.”
And even now, as states and cities are reopening, the one thing that fear, and caution continues to rob us of is that glorious, miraculous, social lubricant called the smile.
The smile is God’s gift that puts us at ease. It is what we use to reassure someone of our love and care. The smile assuages our feelings of awkwardness and disarms anger. It shares peace and hope. It brings light into darkness and reduces stress. The smile of another will always positively affect the attitudes of any non-sociopath.
For 12 months we’ve been face to face in our masks invisibly grinning from ear to ear while looking at each other with ARF eyes, and it is miserable! I guess we could wink at one another but that would probably get a bit weird and creepy.
Bottom line: I miss your stupid face and your maniacal grin, and I’m ready for the masks to go away forever.