Protecting oneself and others from spreading a virus by using masks has now become an acceptable if not desired behavior.
The less desired side-effect is that it also prevents smiles from spreading. Seeing the smile and reacting to it now takes much longer than without masks.
It might seem to be a small detail, and yet it is one of many pleasures we have become accustomed to when connecting with others. Even more so, when becoming acquainted with someone we have never met before. It often is a genuine smile that eases trust and cooperation between people. The less visible it is, the more we need to look out for other signs helping us establish the connection. Consequently, communication is experienced as more tiresome and difficult. With less energy available, and less need to show a smile, even the internal smiles start to disappear.
This same cycle exists with many of those habits linked to connecting with others and enjoying each other’s presence. These habits made it easier to give and receive all those stimuli allowing us to feel pleasure. The reciprocity emerging from being together easily distributing pleasure.
Lacking other people’s support to receive the stimulus we need, doesn’t mean that we can’t have them nor that we can’t sense pleasure.
It means, that we have to be more attentive to our needs. It also means that we have to pay attention to new and creative ways to replace the pleasure that used to be triggered automatically.
The way we show up has become more important and depends more on us than it used to. The pandemic pushed even more responsibility to the individual than the economy and social media already did.