Two Years Later

Two Years Later

Lily Agnew

March 13, 2020: The day the world went into lockdown and began masking. Fast forward to March 2022: The two-year mask mandate is lifted and face-to-face communication is back. Meanwhile, the need for masks had a huge toll on interpersonal communication. 

During conversations, face masks blocked people’s expressions, thereby hindering nonverbal messaging.  Whether it be communicating emotions, needs, intentions, questions, or thoughts, masks were inhibiting. People got creative to be heard or seen: some tried learning sign language, some just annunciated their words to be more clear, and some simply just pulled their masks down to talk.

Now, getting back to normal is wonderful and freeing.  Since masks were a crucial part of life for such a long time, people have discovered new patterns that they developed with the mask.  “The removal of masks was a relieving feeling for me. I was quiet before the masks came on and the masks just made me even quieter, but now I am more mature and confident and can speak without someone asking me to speak up,” said freshman Colleen Santoriello.  

While some noticed good side effects, when the masks coming off others realized they had developed bad habits.  Stella Hatch ‘25 shares one of hers, “I lick my lips when they are chapped, but now I often forget that people can see me doing this.”  Freshman Bella Prestia adds, “When I take tests I read to myself out loud and now my friends have told me that they can all hear me talking to myself during tests.” With the masks on, Bella’s words were muffled. Now, with her mouth uncovered, her words are heard very clearly when she reads the questions out loud to herself.

The human social landscape underwent rapid changes with the worldwide onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. One of the biggest changes was the widespread adoption of face masks– limiting the nonverbal communication that was once– but is no longer– taken for granted.