Face masks offer a certain level of anonymity and as a result, boldness.
People tend to ignore me, or perhaps more accurately don’t take excessive notice of me, but once the masks are on, I make and receive a startling amount of eye contact.
The other day I hopped off the bus and distantly saw a tall and fit young man, also masked, approaching in very form fitting business wear. It was a lot to observe at 8AM.
I looked at him.
He looked at me.
We continued making very deep eye contact until I rounded the corner and subsequently had to catch my breath.
The level of intimacy I’ve shared with strangers when we all wear masks is unsettling and even more unsettling is how negative politeness culture returns once our bare faced vulnerability is back in place.
I kind of dig it.