The Mask

It’s hard to be bitter when the sun is here until 7pm. An entire day, through 6pm in daylight, and everyone gathered around the East River in Dumbo taking pictures and saying how glorious it was that they didn’t have to wait anymore for Spring to come, that it was right around the corner and from the corner shone the promise of glittering days.

Now that we have smart phones, they maneuver the time change for us so I'm still chipping at 11pm and I can’t wake up but it’s almost 8am (that’s my schedule). The whole day is warped because we’re able to forget daylight savings. Only the two tourist girls with their little Adidas on could possibly have captured the moment so perfectly. Shamelessly posing like models in front of the water, pushing their jackets back to reveal a long sleeved white shirt beneath, walking towards the iphone seductively. One of them had a foot thing that she did that made her look like a dancer or a waiting deer. If only I knew how to use my phone for what it’s for: self-branding.

The masks began with those online quizzes that we took in middle school that said what we were (I’ve gone over this before. Obviously those quizzes made a big impact on me. But I also think that they were important for our development and as a metaphor for this generation.) And on the other hand the mask is not different from what it has always been. We are human and love charades. We love secrets. We love to hide. And despite all of this, we are also fascinated by our own form, and love to perform the human experience by mimicking what we have seen when we were children and from the media. Hence the mask gets passed down generation by generation, changing slightly to fit the time.

But it is a mask.

Imagine you take the mask off and you are able to watch your performance and break down the meaning behind each gesture. If you were to see it you could control it.

Imagine you could wear multiple masks. And why not? We are in the age of the Gemini anyway.

We’re in a truth revolution where the way in which we understand truth is being questioned. In his song Mask Off, Future goes between two identities. “They gang, we gang/ but we are not the same” where he goes between his gang and the accepted standards of the environment where he grew up, and the gang that surrounds him in his current career, and how they may look same, but in essence he had to take the mask off to become who he. We know that, poor and minority groups must manage their identities in order to “be accepted,” the face of which turns out to be demeaning and through a long line of masks through history of political, cultural, and sexual identity. It’s been the same mask for years. And in another way, it’s applicable everyone. We’ve come up to our ears in identity politics.

On an individual level, our court system allows for the jury to judge a person’s innocence based on their expression of remorse. The expression on their face. Expressions are cultural, because your understanding of feeling is cultural. Therefore, that expression is the mask you may not even know you are wearing, or maybe you do. You can manage these expressions by taking a distance from your emotions. Not without feeling them, but letting yourself not being spirited away by them.

I’m a ridiculous example of this, this confession might seem to expose my psyche, but when I was younger people would either ask if I was either high or sad. Neither of which I necessarily was, and perhaps went back to some kind of coping mechanism that came out when I was younger that probably got me what I wanted, or made me feel safe in a spaced out kind of way.

So how do we use our masks for good, without being manipulative? How do we name our masks. Because I also know that I have had expressions that have pushed people away (both high and sad are isolating expressions). Remember to smile. And not in an insincere kind of way. Because I believe you can wear a mask and be sincere. The mask is your form of communication. Know how to identify your mask, take it off and repaint it, be shameless if you must. That’s why I loved those women in Dumbo. They knew how to brand themselves. But know where it comes from, and think about how you want to revolt against what you have been given. Through this artistry your face can change the world.