Selfie-taking is everywhere. An extended arm and an intense gaze can be seen on a hiking path, lava cave or crowded flight at 37,000 feet above ground. It’s how we are now. Our faces are always on display to ourselves and to others. We are constantly looking at ourselves as we show that to others. It has all gotten a bit meta. Under all that posturing where is the real self? Do we even look at the faces of others anymore?
In psychology, there is a method that researchers use to “prime” individuals to either be internally or externally directed. I will try to keep the psychological jargon to a minimum here. Bear with me one more sentence or two. In trying to get people to be introspective we ask them to draw an “E” on their forehead so that they can read the letter E. If we want people to be externally directed we ask them to draw it so that others can see it: Ǝ.
Now imagine if we went around drawing an Ǝ on our foreheads at business meetings or at the supermarket. Would we be more open to the ideas of others? Would we be more tolerant? Would we actually know the color of our neighbor’s eyes?
In terms of travel these days, how many people look at each other’s faces or in the eye? What about art work? How many people take photos of artwork, buildings or anything around them without sticking their own face into it?
I was recently at a wax museum in Los Angeles and there was this weird (go figure) exhibit in which a body dressed in bright yellow had a television for a face. Our faces are a source of entertainment now for ourselves and that ubiquitous selfie-stick.