The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

14 June 2011

Behind the face

Don't judge a book by its cover.

Is it really possible to not take into consideration what a thing - or person - looks like? We get cues about how to behave and what to expect from appearances.  For example, when crossing a steep ravine on a wooden bridge, if the slats look like they are ancient and appear to be rotted at the edges, you would judge that bridge to be unsound.  If the principal asks you to step into her office with a scowl on her face, you would judge yourself to be in trouble.

What about how a person looks?  Their hair, eyes, expression, clothes?  It's hard to not let that influence your perception of them before you get to know them.  For example, I'm working with a new group of people and all of them are blank slates to me.  I don't know their stories, their talents, passions, pursuits, their opinions or preferences.  I have formed an idea of what each one is like based on what they look like: this one is a little grumpy, that one very hip and fun, the other studious and disciplined.  As I'm spending more time with them, their personalities are becoming more clear to me, overshadowing my imagined ideas of them - and as I get to know them, their appearance is also morphing, blending into the entirety of who they are, rather than a caricatured assortment of features and details.

On the other hand, there is a group of people I know entirely virtually.  I talk to them online and have never met them or seen pictures of any of them.  In this situation, it is their personalities coming through their typed conversation that is forming my mental image of who they are, what they look like, sound like, what they do when they're not attached to a computer.  If we were to all gather together in a room, would we be able to put names to faces based on real life conversation?  How surprising would it be to see each other in person?  Would our opinion of each other change, based on what we see?

Is our face the cover, or the window to who we are?

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