The Mask

By Reagan Kaelle, TIWP Student

Everybody wears a mask. It hides your identity, face, and emotions. Masks are armor. In this society, they seem to protect us. But I don’t think that’s true. Masks prevent authenticity and genuine connection. I can stare into the faceless metal shield for as long as I want, but in the end, I never empathize, sympathize, or even remotely care about the façade being present to me. It takes centuries to build your mask up. Layer by layer, you stop being vulnerable to prying eyes and the fear of expressing emotion. You can walk through the streets of the city and all you will witness is a world devoid of creativity and passion.

We have been stripped by the very thing that claims to build us up. These identical walls are dubbed the great equalizer. They are preached and coveted. No longer is the human race subject to visual preference. Now the parasitical shield has expanded; not only is there a physical mask, but a mental mask, as well. We have stopped really seeing anyone. While you can’t change your appearance, it is fundamentally easy to change other’s perception of you. Everyone has­ become excellent shapeshifters, not changing their forms but instead their personas. Anyone can be anything to any particular person. Dispositions are changing.

If you take off the mask, you die. Instant termination. You are categorized into one of two boxes—suicidal or dissident—both looked down upon with universal scorn. I have gone my whole life without seeing a face, seeing truth or clarity in a fellow human’s eyes. But if I will never see veracity, then that is the point of the mask?

Today I took off the mask and walked the streets of the city. Nobody saw me. Their eyes simply slid past me, as if I was an inanimate object. I walked the streets of the city today without the mask but still nobody saw the real me. It’s as if I was still hiding behind the metal.

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