By Madison Kitch
With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, it’s clear to all that quarantine is coming to an end. With Pfizer and Moderna, we can now spit in each other’s mouths all summer long. It’ll be amazing! That being said, the ability to function in a social setting may not be as easy as getting a shot in the arm. It’s been a little over a year since everything shut down, and everyone’s social skills have withered away (along with their will to do schoolwork if it requires getting out of bed). Something as simple as turning on microphones during class induces cold sweats and the shakes.
The art of communicating with other people has dried up, but quarantine has given way to some new, weirder habits. Removing the mask means people will be able to see that I talk to myself as I walk through Target. To be fair, I talked to myself before a pandemic, but never in public. It’s so embarrassing, and yet it cannot be stopped. It’s not necessary to comment on the snack selection out loud, but it’s hard to physically stop myself. Keeping all my thoughts and opinions inside my head could be catastrophic. However, it’s not just me. Dear reader, I am there when you walk through Albertsons. I hear you mumbling about the price of fresh fruit (you’re right, it’s way too expensive).
The only thing worse than talking to yourself from behind a mask is making facial expressions from behind a mask. Once the shield is taken away, chaos is simply expected. One can no longer blindly react to a truly hideous pair of patterned leggings or snicker about a piece of toilet paper on someone’s shoe. I’ve totally lost the ability to conceal my emotions, and that could have drastic consequences. No Brianna, I’m definitely not holding back laughter after hearing you fake a ‘cute’ sneeze.
But hey, talking and making facial expressions from behind a mask isn’t so bad. As long as you stay inside (which should already be happening anyways), you’re good. A deeper, more complex problem lies right in our very homes. Google Meet may seem easy and quick, but a teacher saying your name stirs up a panic attack like no other. It’s sometimes stressful to be unexpectedly called on in person, but it’s even worse online. Most students are scrolling on their phones, stuck in a blissful social media haze, and hearing their name brings them crashing back to reality. If you can’t get out of answering the question, good luck getting it out without sounding a broken record. The stuttering is truly insane, especially under pressure. While you can work up the courage and answer the question in about 30 seconds, the clammy feeling all over your body won’t go away for a while.
If Google Meets weren’t bad enough, just wait until you actually walk outside. Quick conversations with the cashier at Smith’s have turned me into a sputtering blob. No, I don’t know how my day is going! That’s such a hard question. Interacting with anyone besides my immediate family and closest friends is a danger zone. It’s bad in person, but it’s somehow equally terrible over text. The DoorDash delivery guy is probably wondering why I misspelled ‘thank yoi!’
Masks are the ultimate concealing accessory. Wearing a mask and a pair of big sunglasses makes me feel like a suave undercover French spy. So naturally, I wear sunglasses now, but not only because of the French thing. With sunglasses, you can avoid making eye contact with people. It may look a little weird to wear sunglasses indoors, but that’s a small price to pay to not look someone in the eye (also, spies make a lot of sacrifices all the time). It’s so unnaturally hard too. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and maybe mine are having a panic attack because I can’t handle looking someone straight in the face.
To be fair, some of us have been socially illiterate since before Covid began. However, that only makes socialization during these confusing times worse. If you’re lucky enough to not fall apart during every interaction you have, be thankful. You can support your introverted friends by going inside Starbucks and buying them coffee (they’ll give you money, please just order it).