Your Personal DNA Mask: Are You Ready for the Big Reveal?

The level of “masking” in the information age is multi-dimensional. 

While personal banking was historically done in person, masks of account numbers and usernames have replaced much of the monetary transactional processes. 

Redditors are known for vehemently guarding the masks behind which their users are cloaked while simultaneously defending the right of free speech. They agree to trust the process of letting their members work out moral and ethical questions as well as decide what is truly funny or agree when an egregious wrong needs to be corrected.

Surveys are now done through links and promises of confidentiality rather than delivered to mailboxes with requests to use return envelopes. News reporting has now (mostly) perfected the computer voice change software so that interviews done with shadow profiles and deep voices lend a mask to what otherwise the interviewee just couldn’t bear to reveal.

And now?  In what seems like the blink of an eye, scientists at the Human Genome Project have gone from embarking upon their massive task to completing the identification of approximately 30K genes and potentially “3 billion chemical base pairs” that make up human DNA.

This process has raised a plethora of new “mask-type” questions: How do we approach fairness in the use of information? What are the psychological and/or stigmatizations of any gene-based revelations? What about laws, patents, commerce, reproductive rights, validity, reliability, mistakes?…The list of questions is seemingly as long as the double helix models embedded in every science classroom across the country.

But what are the answers?  And, what is the answer for YOU?

In just a short period of time, you’ve now been given the opportunity to find out just where the propensity of your historical and/ancestral DNA was derived.  In other words, you can now find out from where you’ve come.  By lifting this mask, thousands of people have now revealed the answers to some of their deepest questions…only to find more.  Or, to find out answers that others wish had remained hidden.

But soon, the “thousand dollar personalized DNA testing” package may become another reality for you. You may now be able to find out where you are going.

Do you want to know what traits you carry and how your genetic makeup is either vulnerable to various diseases or reveals strengths of which you had not have been aware?  Do you want to see your information on an app where you can search through result after result and look up corresponding information? 

Do you want one of your most personalized masks to be removed?  Are you willing to fork over one thousand dollars to pull it off?  What if it were free?  What if it were collected and stored into a national database?  What if you find out something you would really rather never, ever know?

I would imagine that when humans remove a mask…any mask…that decision is preceeded with some degree of anxiety.  Even if that anxiety is only based in thoughts such as, “I wonder if my hair is now messed up or my mascara smeared?” But there is a national, perhaps even world-wide, anxiety about what the removal of our personal DNA mask means.  And it may be time for you to think your opinions through…before someone removes that mask without your permission.

So, are you prepared for the “big reveal?”


Photo used by permission from ChaTo’s Flickr Account