Masks. We all wear them. The different faces we present while in different circumstances … the work mask, the home mask, the party mask, etc. Societally, we are so accomplished at masking ourselves, we often don’t realize we’re wearing one. A physcial mask allows you to hide who you are, providing a sense of anonymity and an unbridled freedom to act in ways that are outside your nature. But is that truly the case?
Perhaps a mask gives us the freedom to act according to our true nature — the one we hide from ourselves. One look at the internet and social media gives credence to the idea that the feeling of anonymity frees us to act in extraordinary ways or say things we would never say directly to someone’s face. We hide behind the avatar and the carefully built profile. Showing only those bits of ourselves we want to, with the idea of making us look better than we are. Except the carefully constructed facade crumbles under the force of stated personal opinion.
“We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss
In Speak No Evil, Melody Fisher has several examples of people hiding behind masks and the damage it does. Her uncle hides his sadistic, bullying tendencies behind a church-going, scripture-quoting facade, but at home the mask comes off. Pillar of the community Wade Hatchet hides his sick and twisted behaviors behind the persona of a loving husband and caring father. But when night falls and no one else can see, he gives in to his urges, then prays for forgiveness.
It is just like her daddy taught her as a child:
“People put on masks to hide their nature, so you must learn how to look behind the mask for your own protection. You have many gifts. Follow your passion and soar like the hawk.” ~ Will Fisher
Yet knowing their nature didn’t protect her. So Melody cloaks herself in silence as a means of protection. Unfortunately, the silence quickly becomes her prison.
Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” So who do you become when you hide behind the mask of anonymity? The freedom rush can be heady, but when you stop and look behind the mask, do you like the person you see?