As ironical it may see, but we live in the age that we have no other choice but to wear that smile of ours, albeit masked, but we need to wear it anyways! The challenge- to be sure to smile at the right time by knowing the smiles behind the other masks! As organisations and societies emerge from the shadows of the pandemic, what is going to be very important is the re-connect that we bring about, person to person, how that re-connect happens will go a long way to decode how societies emerge- whether they are more cohesive then ever before- with an overdose of empathy or whether they deteriorate further and the society continues to be masked not only to keep the virus away, but also to keep humans away form each other! Join me here as we explore what’s unfolding and what is that we can and cannot, do about it!
All of us know this very archaic statement about “humans being social animals”- I guess this age old statement has all the words in the right order! The last one is perhaps the most crucial one that we keep on ignoring, that as humans we too are “animals”. Needless to say when the social fabric of societies undergoes unintended or at times crafted stretch beyond an allowable limit; we see the animal manifest within the societies that we move about. This animal element then could be the individual, the community as a whole or the leadership that directs and builds a pathway to that effect! How this helps or harms the construct of the evolving society is really another story, what I really want to discuss is what perhaps is evolving behind the masks and why that space is so very critical to manage and measure the altered lives that we will encounter as we move ahead!
Even as a layman, if you think about how we tend to connect and communicate, perhaps even before the spoken words- it’s often the smile that either welcomes us, keeps us at a distance or ensures we don’t waste our time in the place that we have found ourselves in! That is the power of the smile- a crooked thing which apparently sets everything straight! Now with that formidable (and in some cases even infectious) smile staying hidden behind the veil of the mask- it’s going to be anyone’s guess what the encounters of the future are going to end up like! In all probability people will resign themselves to the virtual smiles through the digital connect of video calls, rather than the earlier in-person warmth! Sure enough, the smile is but a component of human interaction and not the complete interaction so why bother if that’s masked? Well if you want to learn more, do get in touch with an expert for Non-Verbal Communication or someone who excels at Body Language and they will be better equipped to tell you the art and science of what happens when people cloak themselves up and we are unable to read the vital cues- sure, no one will possibly get killed- but given the diminishing intelligence that people have- you never know!
Go back to your normal working day, perhaps some time last year, before all this nonsense of the pandemic crept up- what do you see, rush hour hustle to reach your office or business headquarters, that pooled cab, those conversations, those jokes, that stiff upper lip- which was possibly cracked opened by another smile from a perfect stranger on the subway, that laughter and those moments of stress through the meetings- which were well read and relaxed by a ill times joke- all these and many such instances were only possible because all the cues were given away by the presence or absence of a smile! Certainly wearing a mask, in the given context is vital to ensure you still remain in the present and don’t figure as a number in some morbid list, but with the masks on, and the decoding becoming tougher by the day, as people get more and more tough business situations to deal with- what’s going to manifest is primarily more and more curtailed, truncated conversations- limited engagements- which are just to the point of meeting business objectives and that’s about it! This will leave out the human completely and knowingly or unknowingly each one of us will become a part of this- cyborg kind of setting wherein our conversations increasingly become limited, referring to spread sheet column numbers, diagrams, percentages, etc. etc. and no one seems to be bothered about what’s happening within the person with whom they are engaging- good or bad- intentional or unintentional- well contexts can be many and reasons too could be valid or invalid- but what is certain is that, these engagements will end up stamping out the smile and remain focused on the masks rather then the smile behind will leave and this will eventually leave an unalterable mark on the development and engagement of human collaboration in the times ahead! For some sectors it may help, yet for other it may harm progressively stalling the spirit of collaboration, trust, interdependence which are vital for a few things, no matter how much automated we are or aspire ton be! So how do we go about this? Can this be stopped? How do we cope with this?
To begin with the earlier we realise, as Individuals, Societies,Communities that the whole essence of being a human is about being together and for each other- is when this menace can be altered and we can rescue humanity from being turned into a primitive level of cyborgs wherein all of us just end up being extensions of our digital presence by work, position or influence! For this to happen, we need to see what seems to be cloaked away in plain sight! We have been told about wearing the mask- sure enough do it- but no one asked you not to smile- no one asked you to become curt- no one asked you to loose that warmth in your voice- so re-create that- so what if its all coming from the filter of the mask- so be it- put that extra pep in the effort and ensure that your personality and it’s vibrancy is able to come out shining through the physical mask and that physical mask doesn’t end up becoming a psychological mask that subdues your brain, your power to assert, communicate and express yourself- don’t ever allow that to happen because no one is asking you to do that and no one will ever nor can anyone ever! This clarity of knowing that physicality of the mask to cover and protect you has and cannot have any bearing on your ability to express and assert yourself is of fundamental importance! The human brain is a little funny, the moment you create imagery and demonstrative influences around it- the mind games begin and then the whole response or reactive mechanism is nothing but how strong you rationalization, scientific approach and common-sense is! The moment you unwittingly add even the smallest element of emotion to this unfolding drama, all hell will break loose and you will end up not only masking your face, but also your mind and your ability to think!, playing straight into the hands of those who are possibly directing your society right now!
So, to keep it simple, remember your faces is masked not you! The more you succumb to the emotional melodrama through the forced down narratives chances are that you will end up thinking or rather begin to direct your ability to think in the direction which serves the interest of everyone else but yourself and you will just go on to prove the points like a few of the social influencers are trying to right now- like you know, “work form home” is awesome, “sabbatical is a great time” and so on and so forth! Remember, we are in midst of not only a pandemic, but a global reset and all the unfolding narratives that you see near and far- are all competing for only one thing- no not the cure for the pandemic- but for deciding the direction of the altered society as it emerges out of this pandemic! Think about it- do you really think that it would have taken a pandemic for global MNCs to spare a few dollars on home furniture and ask employees to work from home? Wouldn’t it have saved them millions of dollars by not having to pay rents or build those awesome buildings with great infrastructure to begin with (which they sold so often & so brashly as they attracted youngsters at campuses and in the competing firms to come and work from them)? Think! So what’s the plan? Read on!
Being a blog, I wouldn’t want to get into the intricate details about what the social directors aim to do and why, whether thats right or wrong, that’s not the point! The whole point is to tell you all just one thing, guard your face but unleash your smile! Even if you are masked, when you smile, the mask will give away that vital cue and that is the essence of being human and being connected with each other- to look after each others’ back and collaborate as we navigate the uncertain times! If you ask me, this time that we are witnessing is the modern equivalent of the ice age, unless we stay connected, communicative and wise, our individual weaknesses will end up empowering the greed of a few to stall our creative abilities and take away the very freedom that we cherish so much to be who we are by exercising the choices that we have- in the society that we live about!
Altered behaviors, will sure enough be there and we may alter our behaviors as we go along, nothing to complain about that bit, but what is essential and fundamental is that any and all altered behaviour must be a result of our human connect and the empathy that we hold within and not because of some social dictate that has been pushed down our throats! Take a moment and read again, if you need to, but this is the most fundamental difference and this alone will decide if societies will progress or regress they come out of this pandemic! Our choices and ability to choose have to remain intact as they weer before, as I keep saying our face is masked not our mind- as long as you remember this one thin- rest assured all your actions will be aligned to the right path of individual progress and when many of us do this, society will move ins a directions which serves the greater good to many rather then ending up serving a few and short changing ourselves in the bargain!
So, if you ask me, what are my final words here, keep that warmth glowing behind that mask- your face may be covered but nor are your eyes and neither is your mind- let that smile flow as it normally does, let the eyes express and the voice radiate the warmth and genuineness that you have for your fellow humans! Unless we make a resolve to stay connected even as we adorn the masks, re-connecting anytime in the future will be too little too late- because by then we risk ending up becoming a complete digital extension of that video meeting room ID number and everything human about us will be at a grave risk!
I leave you here, with these thoughts, urging you to wear your smile (albeit behind your mask) and always remember: That human connect is vital and no matter who says what, don’t let anyone mask your thinking and your mind- for there resides the power to change your today and your tomorrow!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one! Until then stay safe, and smile! 🙂