Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


The Masks People Wear

Before anyone leaves their home for a public appearance or some sort of personal interaction, most have a tendency to put clothing on, maybe shower and then eat. A person will also throw on an invisible, perhaps superficial, figurative mask. I know when I go out into public, I reach into a giant box of these masks, all with a multitude of concealing functions. I probably own hundreds, and I have found myself wearing these masks more often than ever before.

A mask has a number of functions and subsequential metaphors. For the most general of purposes, a mask is best known to cover; physically worn over a face to disguise, amuse or terrify. It can be made from a number of textiles and colors and it can be the likeness of someone live or dead, usually made of clay or wax. As well, a mask can have a more figurative connotation, such as a mask of pretense.

The masks of pretense may consist of emotion, fear, political ties, sexual orientation, respect, sensation and so on. Whatever meanings we derive from each of the masks, their ability to conceal is always constant and consistent. This is especially true when one is involved in a tragic life altering event.

If you remember the column from last month, I wrote of an event that happened in June 2006. The event was a fatal car accident that involved a pedestrian, myself and alcohol. Like many people who witnessed the accident, or for people who have had similar and tragic events in their life time, it becomes etched into memory. This is not a pleasant memory and it is extremely haunting.

Concealing tragic events and the memories attached to them may not be proper or healthy. Perhaps one would do something different. However, a mask for me, especially when a person is involved with a death, is something I feel compelled to use.

Thus, the evening of the accident began just as any normal one and there was no thought of what could possibly lie ahead. After a few drinks, a person may ask them self how he or she feels and if it’s possible to drive. That is what I did and as an educator, I should have known better.

No matter the setting, the situation, or the ability to walk straight and then drive, a few drinks will put you over the legal limit of .08. What awaits someone along the drive home is a broad, loose speculation. This is something I learned first hand.

There is no absolute method for predicting the events that may unfold. It may sound cliché, but everyone is vulnerable to the situations I present to you. Believe it or not, it happens too often. It’s unfortunate that many tragic situation and the resulting consequences that follow can easily be prevented. I learned this the hard way.

Drinking and driving is not something you want to involve yourself in. If an accident occurs, the ensuing sirens you hear are real. What follows the sirens are real emergency vehicles and then discussions with police. Anxiety, depression and the realization that someone lies lifeless in the street sets in.

Although it is extremely difficult, I’ll slowly chip away at my mask(s), revealing what lies underneath. From these experiences I hope to move forward, grow stronger and gather the skills to educate and share. It is not an experience any one should go through and I am lucky to be alive writing this column.

Shane Eason is a faculty member at FAU School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. He is available to discuss the dangers of driving under the influence to youth groups and schools in the South Florida region.

The UP did not edit this submission. We are not responsible for the content in this column.

Please send comments and questions to Shane Eason at [email protected]. This column will continue monthly throughout 2008.

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