There are so many reasons this pandemic has been traumatic and depressing. People are ill and dying. Some are panicking, others disregarding and even defaming. But one of the subtler traumas has been caused by an unintended consequence of masks. I’m an infectious diseases doctor, and I believe in masks. We wear them in the hospital and our sickest patients wear them, too. They are a necessity during the pandemic. Yes, they work. But…
I miss seeing people smile, and I’m sorry people don’t know when I’m smiling at them. My eyes aren’t sufficient to convey a smile, nor are my hands and arms. I believe the absence of smiles – not Zoom smiles or FaceTime smiles, but in person smiles, person-to-person smiles among strangers – has caused much of the malaise and melancholy we are all feeling. I don’t think I ever realized how much my mood is uplifted by the simple anonymous smiles of people passing at the grocery store or gas station. But now, after more than 4 months of concealing ourselves behind masks, I have a new appreciation for smiles from strangers and I can’t wait to see them again. .

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