Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2021 01:14 am
I’ve taught in my local Okinawan middle school system for the past 19 years. In Japan, the new school year begins in April. I was transferred from my old school to the newly-built middle school closer to my home, starting in April this year. It’s another great school with wonderful administration and good teaching staff.

But I just realized something – since April, I have been working with many people whose faces I have never actually seen... This is bizarre. As long as we wear masks in public places, or in schools and shops, I may go for a full school year without ever seeing the full faces of many people I work with, talk to, and teach with on a daily basis... Including students.

I also notice that many men who used to shave daily don’t bother so much anymore, since their two-day stubble really isn’t seen or noticed as much. Including myself.

We have developed the habit of carrying extra masks in our workbags, sharing with those whose masks are falling apart during a long workday. There is scented mask spray placed where it can be used as commonly as alcohol spray for the hands (in school, it can be found on the teacher’s desk -- mine is peppermint spray). Many carry a box of disposable paper masks next to the usual box of facial tissue in their car. Almost everyone has a packet of alcohol wipes in their pocket or purse. And of course, “fashion masks” (decorated paper or cloth masks) are popular now (not in schools or government institutions of course, but in many casual places or events).

I even learned how to fold and twist a used paper mask so it is compressed into a tight little packet, secured by the straps or cords, to be safely and easily disposed-of.

The clichéd “Who was that masked man?” isn’t even funny anymore...

How has constant masking affected your personal social life or perspectives?
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Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2021 06:02 am
It actually has now changed the opposite. As I have been working from home and most places masks are optional (if vaccinated) I have thrown away all those re-useable cloth type masks and rarely wear one myself.

How it changed is - webex - for work so instead of seeing people in person I webex. So things like webex, conference calls, and IM have increased.

For masks similar - although most places these are not needed, I carry some disposable ones with me just in case I am in a position where I need them.

Although this may change as people are starting to go into the office a little more - at this point my plan was to maybe go in come November, I am hesitate about taking public transportation as that is a feeding ground for any sort of virus.
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2021 06:44 am
Masks are not mandated in some places. Here in Japan, at least in schools and government facilities, etc. everyone masks. On military installations here in Japan, it is regulation that everyone masks. It's much better as far as number of new cases per day, hot-spots, and cluster areas, but we're still playing it safe until it's over.

We may be wearing masks until after the New Year at least. If we get another serious spike event, it may go past springtime.

When I teach the karate classes, I and all the students wear masks, workout at a distance from each other, and limit physical contact. Lucky my dojo is big enough to provide safe spacing between practitioners.

But as for masking -- there are people who work with me, or have met me fairly often, who wouldn't know me without a mask on! It seems facial recognition is limited to upper face, hairline, and head-shape...

Another thing that has changed is use and interpretation of facial expression. It's hard to tell if someone is smiling or not...
Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2021 07:38 am
Here in east Texas, people wear a mask or not, as it suits them. I wear one inside stores and such. Since retirement, I don't mingle much anyway.
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Reply Mon 25 Oct, 2021 08:28 am
Here in the US it depends on where you live. I believe due to our high vaccine rates that most cities/towns in Mass are masks optional - the city of Boston though is requiring masks indoors as are most schools - again the schools it depend on the % of those vaccinated.

My daughter attends college in Illinois and they require masks indoors that was put in place around the end of August I think. As when we first went there to move her in they were mask optional but even the few days we were there things changed and you were required to wear masks indoors.

I understand the importance of it - but I just remember the first day they lifted the mask mandate here locally and walking into a local cafe - and seeing all the smiling faces - you do not realize how much you miss seeing that! I did carry my mask in not knowing what each place would require but I did exclaim to them all how much it was nice to see their faces. I am not knocking the need for masks simply acknowledging and recognizing how nice it is to see a smile and someone's full face. You really do not realize how nice it actually is until you have not seen it for quite a while and then you do.

I think that is part of the reason I go maskless if I can - I am vaccinated and I try to maintain distances when I don't have a mask out of respect and safety but quite honestly I really miss seeing faces and warm smiles.
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