By Giuseppe D’Addurno per Ideas Out Of Isolation
Nanjing, China, 2016. The enormous amount of city’s exhaust gases along with toxic humidity had screened my vision and intoxicated my lungs. People with pollution masks walked in the street, attended lessons at university, went shopping in the mall, lived their lives.
Berlin, Germany, 2020. I came back to Europe, where pollution is somehow moderate. However, the outbreak of a pandemic disease resulted in a rationing of food supplies and of some pharmacy goods, such as antiviral masks. People tried to search for them, also on the internet, but prices were prohibitive and in that particular moment they had become a luxury good.
Planet Earth, the near future. After decades of pollution, epidemics and consequential mass hysteria, the whole humanity has accepted health masks as a modern and stylish item of clothing. Big clothing brands have obtained licences and rights for their production, research and development, and sale. Masks are now a trendy item, sold everywhere in the world, copied, traded but above all necessary.
It is a more-than-normal thing to wear a mask, especially a branded one, synonym with quality and reliability. Workers in big cities most of the times get masks from their companies through government insurances. Bus and metro drivers, policemen in the street, bankers and so on are all given a grey-coloured mandatory mask from the state.
Teachers are struggling for having free access to masks because, most politicians say, it’s not necessary to wear one indoor (many of them, though, are being accused of stealing funds destined to education to finance their own mask factories).
Meanwhile, films and internet stars are wearing masks of a particular brand, therefore advertising it through social media and through a focused product-placement in live streams and movies.
High school students choose their masks from advertisement, and the poor ones are bullied because they can’t afford the best options. A black market of copied masks is invading cities and cities’ suburbs in particular, flooding them with toxic masks made from dangerous materials. There are already cases of intoxication of what media call “ironic poisoning”.
Nobody talks about pollution anymore. The simple fact of wearing masks have legitimised people’s unsustainable behaviours. Humans are now used to epidemics’ outbreak, since new ones are appearing every year, one more ferocious then the previous. Overpopulation and continuous financial crises are bringing society to a way-forewarned collapse, one of its symptoms being the creation of this so called futuristic fashion.