Do what; thou shalt not do what? Hang tight, the devil is in the details they say! The just concluded year has presented humanity with a problem that has seen us developing new ways of navigating daily life. One of these changes we have had to make, is wearing mask when out and about. This means that we are now stripped of the survival mechanism of relying to an extent, upon people’s full facial expressions to fully determine things like an immediate intent. We can no longer quickly tell things like sarcasm by simply just looking out for a person’s countenance.

The part of our cognitive brains which depends on the algorithms that build prejudice, is being challenged. Yes, humans indeed depend on prejudice to make it through every day, and some social scientists believe that prejudice is self-regenerating and important for survival, thus making it impossible to do without. If we had to deal with building a profile for the hundreds or thousands of people we come across every single time, we would not have enough brain space to process other more important pieces of information around us in real time.

With masks becoming a new daily fashion piece, our sense of immediate trust to engage is also challenged. It was already hard enough to accurately decipher unmasked faces, now we have less than half of an unmasked face to make a flash decision on whether or not to grant flash trust. Again, our brains are finding ways to protect us without our consent or knowing participation, and rightly so. Look at it this way; masks confer a degree of anonymity to it’s wearer, whether full or half.

It matters that we have to deal with a higher level of anonymity with total strangers. When people have a certain level of anonymity, they are emboldened, and usually, in a more negative way. It is possible, that masks relieve us of certain aspects of our human duties like flashing a social smile to signal flash cordiality or empathy in our shared humanness.

What this means is that we now have to pay more keen attention to what people are saying to determine if we want to grant them a flash trust that makes it possible for them to further build communication that leads to things like friendship, relationship, or business partnership. It means that if we used to generate flash trust in about a few seconds, we may now be taking a minute or a few more to generate it. That is tough; the modern day human task has become tougher.

Do you wonder how we can simply rely on what people are saying with a two-thirds masked face to determine whether or not we should engage further? It is easy; thou shalt not trust a humble bragger!

Humble bragging is simply a not so modest type of modesty. It is designed to draw attention to one’s admirable attributes. Basically put, it is a self-granted testimonial. We all do it in different situations for different reasons. Granted that there are no exact good ways to use this tool, but there’s certainly a bad way to use it! In this case, the space of time that exists between the time of contact with a person, and the time the humble bragging occurs is an important determinant for trustworthy or not, the person is. If a total half-masked stranger can find a spot to insert their masterful art of humble bragging within a few minutes of a conversation, do not test that water!

Here is what is wrong with humble bragging that happens within a few minutes of contact: the person serving it is most likely trying to let you know how better than the average person(you, the listener in this case) they are, and how much more they can benefit you than you can benefit them. It is an antecedent that conditions the listener’s mind to accept an ensuing exploitation that almost always comes with people who humble brag. What is something that is a common feature of bragging? Lies, and over exaggerations. Merely being humble about it does not remove these elements from it.

Here is the good news; this principle can also be applied to online persona to determine if the person you’re relating with is someone you would want to meet with in real life. That said, let’s keep our masks on till the covid-19 pandemic is conquered. It’s happening, and humanity will win as usual! Happy New Year!