Masks, and other disguises

We all wear masks. Some figurative, some literal.

Let me mention the figurative ones first. Many of us mask our true — maybe even hidden — identity. To be sure, most of the time this hiddenness has to do with various insecurities we may have. Our shyness may be masked by “acting out” in ways that might surprise even the one doing the acting out.

Or, and I can definitely relate to this one, those of us who like to act in community theater (and who may appear to have no stage-fright at all) may carry with them some mask of timidity and an unwillingness to “perform” on demand. There are many examples of our various duplicities, which we all disguise from time to time.

Bottom line here is we all wear some kind of masks; some of us on a daily basis. Those are the figurative masks.

The literal masks are harder to deal with and have some interesting ramifications.

First up, perhaps obviously, are the masks and various face coverings we are currently all being asked to wear — not only for our personal wellbeing, but, and more importantly, for the safety and wellness of others.

We have received mixed messages about the efficacy of these masks; I’ll not politicize. It’s my personal belief that face coverings, worn properly, have a benefit both for the wearer and others coming into her or his contact. We do, as a matter of course, wear seatbelts for our own protection and for that of our passengers. If I remember correctly, there was significant pushback for that, too.

There are other contemporary coverings — masks — that I believe are not so necessary. There was a time when any protestor worth his or her salt would want to be recognized, to stand up and be counted, to be acknowledged for taking a particular stand. I am reminded of the decades-ago race riots, as well as the numerous marches on Washington or on the streets of Haight-Asbury, in which not a single person wore masks. (Law enforcement personnel wore protective shields, of course, but that’s another matter.)

Why do today’s rioters, many of whom are lawless ruffians, common hooligans and thoughtless looters, wear masks? Are they not proud of the stances they’re taking? Are they ashamed? Are they bashful? What’s up with that? I say, “Throw the lot of them in jail!”

But there is another, more subtle mask masquerading out there and creeping slowly, inevitably into our daily lives: the QR code. When this QR code is used in a manner in which it was intended, it’s innocuous and even helpful. When it is used as a “mask,” things can get ugly.

An advertisement in some pre-Thanksgiving editions of the News-Times was festooned with one of these QR codes. At first, I thought this was a novel (if not somewhat deceptive) way of fulfilling the N-T’s methods for verifying the advertiser. Upon closer examination of the text of the ad, however, I was led to believe that the advertiser doesn’t so much want their identity known as it/they wanted to keep things just a little hidden.

The ad? Some churchy statement about “remembering the Pilgrims” as there was no “knowledge of Christmas or Easter” (for the primitive savages, the unschooled natives, the non-faith-filled riffraff?) prior the first white step upon the eastern seaboard. Maybe you saw the ad, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you believe as the advertiser does; I don’t.

If I was hip enough to own a smartphone, I would have no problem quickly uploading the specific URL for that particular church. As it is, I guess I’ll continue to shy away (there’s another mask) from that self-righteous bunch. Their identity is safe with me.

I do, however, wish to encourage the News-Times to require advertisers to include real information. Permitting QR “identities” is, I think, tantamount to promoting “masky” tactics.

Cris Torp is a resident of South Beach.


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