Fionnuala loves her soaps. She was watching one the other evening (Emmerdale if you must know) where a scene was taking place inside a cafe. All the actors were wearing masks and socially distancing. There is no longer any kissing in soaps. Or fist fights for that matter. What is the world coming to, is there no end to the madness? Television without gratuitous sex and violence on tap. How will we cope?
It was quite a bizarre and, vaguely unsettling, scene. While it was entirely correct that the producers were promoting the important message of wearing face coverings it gave the scene a slightly ridiculous feel. While I could hear what the characters were saying to each other I couldn’t see their facial expressions. Non verbal communication, which accounts for the majority of communication during social interactions, was at a minimum.
At present I only need wear a mask when I’m on the train or in a shop. These are short periods of time and I don’t need to engage in lengthy conversations in either setting. But there has been talk of introducing them in office environments which would account for a much larger chunk of my day. Ideal for pulling faces at the boss when you don’t agree with their latest crazy decision but not so good for meaningful, substantive conversations with colleagues.
Face coverings are an essential part of our lives now. Wearing them correctly can and will save lives. But there is a price to pay and part of that is becoming even more isolated in a world where messaging and online meetings are more common these days that old fashioned face to face meetings. We are increasingly becoming islands of solitude which cannot be good for our mental health. Standing alone is hard, particularly in the midst of a pandemic.