There’s an in-your-face irony to the fact that I’ve been face-to-face with more faces every day in isolation than I ever was in the outside world. “I can’t wait to see you in person,” we lament into the ether, staring at a camera that randomly simulates eye contact. Hours on end are spent watching faces pop in and out of screens – no handshakes, hugs or (thankfully) fist bumps – and we get on with it, resigned to connecting through the lifelines at our fingertips.
But it’s not all bad. As a child of The Brady Bunch and Hollywood Squares, I’ve been conditioned to associate carefree moments with people in little boxes, accustomed to watching one square more closely than another in pursuit of a little happiness ROI.
Many of us have used this moment and its mediums to reach out to old friends, connect with past colleagues, join a meeting of the minds on topics that interest us – opening our worlds to the places we will go outside our bedroom windows. As we gaze,
grumble and glance at our screens, we are slouching toward a new era of social cues, canvassing countenances for impact in an effort to harness our virtual reality.
This is hardly revolutionary. We start reading and implementing facial expressions in our first months of life, expressing emotions that range from interest, joy and surprise to anger, sadness, disgust, and fear. These days there’s an emoji, GIF or sticker for that – icons that do the talking for us – yet the real thing will always be the ultimate canvas for facing our humanity.
Shelley Tatum Kieran is Partner at MOCA+. She can also be found @thehandfeeds.