/Drop the mask, open your heart

Drop the mask, open your heart

By Darren Lum

Seeing the faces of the children in the Terry Fox Run for Archie Stouffer Elementary School it’s easy to see the happiness. Perhaps I’m naive, but children are honest with their feelings.
It’s a lot more difficult to know what emotion is being exhibited when it comes to adults.
We smile. We laugh. Our eyes widen. Are we happy?
It seems we all develop the method of hiding how we feel. We become adept at hiding behind our masks of protection for ourselves and others. No one really wants to hear the sordid details of life, particularly the mucky bits with no answers and only questions. Most interactions include the ubiquitous greeting, “Hi, how are you?”
We know when this is said an answer of depth isn’t necessarily forthcoming as much as the “Good, and you?” response.
I’m guilty of this at times with certain people I don’t know well. In some ways nothing’s wrong with that. We can’t share our entire day of woe with everyone.

Since the pandemic was at its height people seem to be carrying more anxiety and stress. The manner in which we carry ourselves has changed. The ways in which we interact with others has changed.
One area I’ve noticed this is in dating. Communication is one area that has vastly changed since I last dated about 10 years ago, which was in-person or speaking on the phone. Texting was a chore. Now, there are a series of messages exchanged through (take your pick of) electronic correspondence, which precedes any in-person date. It’s a vetting process for both individuals. This has its merits. However, one aspect that leaves me wanting is when a connection isn’t there and rather than send a message indicating the end there is a dead silence left. It’s what is known as “ghosting.” There’s also the “slow ghost,” which is when an agreement to meet up or take a call is accepted, but is followed before the date by a subsequent note about an inability to meet up. As a recipient, you accept the reason as fact until upon another request and another rejection you realize the disinterested person isn’t outright rejecting you, but they are. Maybe I’m being harsh, but it’s not clear and it’s not honest. I’m not sure if this serves anyone. That said, we all have our habits and reasons for acting the way we do. Habits die hard. And, I suppose if everyone is familiar with this approach than who am I to question it?

Perhaps it isn’t just in dating that communication has changed. It’s across the board. Maybe people want to avoid the messy parts of life. All of this is happening in a world that is muddied by the myriad of methods of communication options at our finger tips. Too much choice leaves people silent. It has the potential to turn people colder in a world that is showing itself to be less caring than what I grew up with. I appreciate hearing a person or seeing a person.
I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in communication. I hope I learned from these lessons. I believe I deserve honesty and will do my part to be pay this forward to others because in a world of carefully curated beautiful images and snapshots of wonder conveyed on electronic screens we see on our smartphones it’s important to know what’s real. I know my actions are mere drips in a sea of behaviour exhibited by many. Taking on hopeless causes is my cross to bear and I’m willing to put myself out there in the hopes it can turn the tide. I’d be inauthentic to who I am and represent if I did anything different.