Social Disconnect and Desensitization

I work as a cashier at a grocery store, and I have noticed that the high school kids have become really anti-social. Back in April, they were normal, friendly boys and girls who enjoyed socializing during breaks and meals. The younger kids still expected the upcoming school year to be normal, the juniors were looking forward to their senior year, and although the seniors complained about losing their graduation ceremonies, they were looking forward to going away to college and becoming independent.
When the mask mandate first started, all the kids complained about not being able to breathe or talk clearly, and they would remove their mask frequently to get fresh air. A couple of them walked through the whole store once before realizing they didn’t have their masks on. After a few months, I noticed that they were wearing their masks in the car, in the lunchroom, in the bathroom, and even when work was over. Also, they weren’t complaining about breathing anymore, they were complaining about headaches and drowsiness, and lack of focus.
Now, they don’t complain anymore. During breaks and lunch, they all sit alone at tables spaced 10 feet apart, with their masks on, and ear buds in. Yesterday, I tried several times to say hello to one of the boys, and got absolutely no response. One of the other guys was asleep, face down, at a neighboring table, with his mask still on. A girl that I used to talk to all the time, has in fact told me to never talk to her again. Now, she talks to no one. She only listens to music on her phone.
In addition, the store manager has been making the bag boys wear face shields when they come in close contact with customers. As a result, most bag boys will find any excuse to retrieve carts, and cashiers are left to do most of the bagging and customer service without any help.

If these negative experiences become the norm for students who are just beginning to enter the workforce, what will it be like when these kids are in positions of authority?

High School
Honolulu, Hawaii
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