COVID-19 changed our way of living. It had an immense impact on human interaction, trust and visual identity. These are particularly interesting details to unpack when looking through the lens of online dating, where intimate connection continued to come to virtual fruition even when physical interaction was extensively restricted. Engagement soared. Apps such as Bumble and Tinder introduced new location features where users were no longer restricted to matching within their geographic locations. Fancy getting to know someone in Seoul? Or Rio? Go right ahead. One-to-one video chatting functions were also popularised. The entire dating experience now turned digital. Could this be a glimpse into the not so far future?

Looking beyond the effect of social distancing and isolation on the dating experience, visual identities took a timely shift. Prior to this pandemic, and right on the brink of hot-girl summer season, we would have seen people uploading photos of themselves in popular rooftop bars (say hello Peckham hot spot, Franks) or on holiday vacations, sipping on a fruity cocktail reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. So, what happened when all of this was put on hold amidst COVID-19?

The facemask becomes the latest item to covet as it soared in demand. Whilst the West has adopted this accessory for medical reasons amidst COVID-19, the East has been encouraging and using face masks for decades. Some use them in courtesy to not infect fellow passengers on public transport, women wear them when they aren’t wearing make-up, and others use them as protection from air pollution. Their popularity was manifested in Asia. And now they have moved into a global market, becoming both a shield against a threatening virus and fashion statement. Have facemasks become the new sunglasses?