“That’s What the Point of the Mask is”

Griffin Landry

Over the past two years, most people have become used to wearing physical masks, but a lot of people have been able to make a mask socially as well. Some people I know don’t show their full face to people, over the internet or not. Masks have allowed us to hide who we are, limiting facial expressions to people

Masks have allowed us to withdraw into ourselves, finding comfort.

But what about masks that aren’t always physical? Ones that you can’t really see or know about, since people hide it so well.

People having to mask who they are for the sake of “blending in”, not wanting to be singled out in social situations. 

An internet friend of mine, Donnie, is neurodivergent, which is someone who’s brains work differently than usHe still wears his mask in public, despite no mask mandate. I asked them about it. Besides the obvious reasons, they said:

“I find it comforting, I prefer it. I enjoy the fact that I can hide my face, because I’m usually horrible with facial expressions and how to control it. I’ve never been able to control them usually, so I find it comforting in the sense that I know I’m not being misinterpreted.“ With autism, Donnie finds it hard to read and understand social cues at times. 

Thanks to masks, Donnie has found it easier to hide more than just his face and those kinds of social cues. He also has another kind of mask on: trying to not be seen as neurodivergent, and trying to appear “normal” in a society that normally frowns or doesn’t understand people who are neurodivergent

“I only do it so I dont appear different and people look at me strangely. It’s a normalcy I’m allowed to keep for myself. It stops people from asking questions and stuff. 

It allows me to pull on a mask and be perceived as normal in a society that wouldn’t usually accept me, so I pull on a mask to “blend” in, and not be different.”

“A lot of the time it’s trying to refrain from movement.” He explained when I asked them to elaborate. “I put up a mask trying not to move around too much. The way I speak a lot of the time, I try to stop myself from doing.” This is referring to ticks, something Donnie does due to his autism.

Over time, masks have become a part of our everyday life, physical ones and ones we put up subconsciousl. People find comfort in not showing people their full identity until trust is formed. 

What kinds of masks do you put up without realizing it?