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professional masks

Uniforms for the face
  (+11, -6)
(+11, -6)
  [vote for,

In our culture, masks are not commonly worn in public. In all but special occasions (such as costume parties) or situations requiring facial protection (welding, surgery, certain sports), masks are associated with disguise and deceit. I'd like to do away with this prejudice. Masks are appropriate in any situation where one has to present a particular public persona and subordinate one's feelings to one's role. In short, at work.

Salespeople, for example, could wear smiling, friendly-looking masks. Police officers would wear masks designed to project an air of calm authority. Politicians could wear a different mask for every speech.

Other nonprofessional masks could be worn on particular occasions: grief masks for funerals, etc. Even a blank commuter mask could be used to maintain one's privacy on the subway.

Of course, people aready do all this with "psychological" masks. I just think that using an actual, physical face covering would be (a) more honest and (b) less draining on the soul. Masks make it much easier to "get into character", especially if that character is very different from one's usual demeanor. They also make it easier to sustain that character for long periods of time, to change roles and adopt the roles of others, and finally to leave the persona behind at the end of the day.

baf, Apr 03 2000


       Police officers in masks is too creepy. I guess you've never seen "THX 1138".   

       Did you know that some "public areas" actually prohibit the wearing of masks? The "Mall of America" is one.
Eeyore, Apr 04 2000

       The City of Chicago prohibits masks in public as well (municipal code 8-4-170), with the exception of parties and carnivals.
koz, Apr 05 2000

       Funny idea! Makes me smile :-)
mar, Jul 19 2000

       Police officers, and other forms of public service, I wouldn't want masked. Burger clerks, sure, it might make the job somewhat less loathsome.   

       And the aesthetic possibilities of mask design! Mm! All just warmup for our online existence as avatars, too.
hello_c, Sep 08 2000

       Well, you got my vote anyway. Sounds like a healthy way to compartmentalize the roles we play; and when you are discovered without a mask, people will know that you're really just being you!
absterge, Sep 09 2000

       Although interesting the idea might not be sustainable. Psychologically I think it involves the urge to control ones life as if one was outside of it. If these masks were introduced it would beg the introduction of an extra set of masks covering the underlying. We are are both inside and outside ourselves which makes a union impossible (the authentical persona). Adding levels of masks also would make the underlying identity all the more frail and _without_ identity. But on the positive side masks can be used to _challenge_ or make conscious the role characters play, and the rules governing it. So, basicly I am for it, in the Bozo way.
badger, Oct 02 2000

       David Foster Wallace talks about videophone masks in _Infinite Jest_. The idea is that you slap a mask on when you answer the phone so that you don't have to worry about your appearance or facial expressions, and can just talk like you would on today's phones. Eventually they realized this was wasteful and went back to ordinary phones.
bookworm, Oct 02 2000


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