The pandemic has brought us a diverse array of trials and tribulations, but perhaps none is quite so universal and confounding as the way masks inhibit communication.
But for all their pitfalls, it seems that masks may imbue us with one superpower (aside from not catching and spreading deadly viruses, of course). With a bit of technique and practice, we can master the art of fake-smiling at anyone who irritates us—with total impunity.
Just ask TikTok.
*GASP* Who knew?
It's one of the newest viral trends on the platform—people showing off just how talented they are at a mask-obscured fake smile. And frankly, it will leave you both shook and feeling deeply seen.
Just look at this sorcery!
You thought he was giving you a friendly grin, didn't you?
Turns out it was just pure, masked contempt. A twist ending if there ever was one.
Now, at this point in the pandemic, many of us have gotten fairly good at deciphering each other's facial expressions based solely on eye-and-forehead work alone. So you may be going over all your encounters since the pandemic began, wondering if those masked smiles you got were actually... well, masked ire.
That's a reckoning we'll all have to endure. But, consider the bright side.
Is there anything more necessary for 2020 than a perfect fake smile?
What could possibly better catch the entire spirit of this annus horribilis than the subtle rage revealed in this young woman's face when her "smile" is "unmasked," so to speak?
It's a gift!
And the variety with which you can secretly glare at people is truly exciting.
Never mind smiling.
You thought he was flirting, didn't you? Turns out that smolder was secret disgust.
A true bait-and-switch.
What about, say, that boss whose jokes are terrible, but you have to laugh anyway because they're your boss? Good news!
Your days of fake laughing while dying inside are over.
And so versatile.
There seems to be a fake mask smile for nearly every occasion.
So if you're one of the legions of people who've simply had enough of 2020's nonsense, it seems like this might be your moment to shine.
Mask-up and start practicing that perfect Tyra Banks "smize," misanthropes.
This is the moment we've been waiting for!