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For those who remember the TV series “The Lone Ranger,” each episode ended with people saved by the heroic figure to utter, “Who was that masked man?”
There was a reason the Lone Ranger was always virtually “alone”: masks are mostly associated with not wanting to be recognized for who one really is… a bank robber’s favorite.
What else is mask-wearing robbing us of?
Aside from not knowing what a person’s face looks like, and the smile or frown hiding behind it, according to Kathleen Pike, Executive Director of Columbia University’s Global Mental Health Programs, the negative psychological effects of mass mask-wearing are substantial:

  • “Joy, anger, fear, surprise, sadness, contempt, disgust.These basic building blocks of emotional experience are written all over our faces… We depend on facial expression to know and understand each other. With physical distancing, increased anxiety, and disrupted routines due to COVID-19, we are primed to seek emotional connection by simply seeing each other’s facial expressions.”
  • “Masks block a lot more than COVID-19 droplets.We depend on non-verbal behavior, and particularly facial expression, to express ourselves and communicate to others. Those feelings above, and many more, get expressed on our faces. In some contexts, non-verbal communication accounts for the majority of what we understand in our social exchanges. With our faces half-covered, we lose key non-verbal information.”
  • “Many young children burst into tears or recoil when someone wearing a mask approaches. It’s so common that some elementary schools prohibit masks at the school Halloween parade. One reason for this is that the development of facial recognition is relatively weak in young children.”


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