Saturday, 2 February 2008


I did an experiment once, just out of interest, on a myspace clone site, a pretty poor one actually, where much use of "lol", "nite" and "wkd" seem to imply a lack of respect for spelling and grammar. Sorry, i am an old pedant, but I do think language has precision and nuance for a reason.

So, anyway, on this site, amongst the honest-desperate, the tattoed male biceps and ladies who should know better in pvc nurses uniforms, I put up two identical profiles. One with the pic of dear Oddbod which currently graces my profile, and one actually of me, looking, dare I say it, quite artistic and buff.

Oddly, though worded the same the latter profile got a massive response, whereas the former got no views; A bit like the few I have now which I suppose must be out of curiosity.
Further, I wrote various, fairly light-hearted but eloquent unsolicited messages to random people and again, poor old Oddbod was really persona non grata, whereas, shiny archery bloke in nothing but leaves got very favourable responses.
Both profiles are now defunct, alas impossible to delete, but effectively abandoned.
Ok, now as an anthropological study, it is hardly conclusive. But I do think it tell us a lot about first impressions.
Now, it is largely irrelevent what I look like as I am not really looking for sexual partners or dalliances and even if i was, this is not how I would go about it.
But it seems odd that "attractiveness" is the main driver for whether we find someone interesting enough to contact or not. Are we humans so shallow?
And so, as I stood in the garage yesterday, awaiting my turn to pay for my diesel, I noticed there was a monitor above me which showed the next person to pay, in this case myself, observed from some hidden video camera.

And i was aghast to discover that the easy going smile I was certain I was projecting onto my face, being of a generally amenable humour, was in fact a rather stony faced almost-scowl. I was horrified! How grumpy I must seem!

So, I turned up the gain on the smile amplifier until it was a recognisable happy face but before that point where it becomes a gormless gurn.
And the smile-intention seems to have to be a lot stronger than I thought to actually register as something approachable.
And this lesson I have taken to heart, to see if people become more well disposed to me in my everday life.
I think the main message i take from this is: What we think we are, or what we intend to be, is probably not what we actually are. The result is pretty much always something else, while we don't actually know his.

And so, how therefore can we actually let the world know we are cheerful souls who would happily engage in a conversation given the chance?
I suppose we have to take our cues from the people we interact with.

But this Oddbod, will, in future, be using his smile muscles a lot more forcefully.
And don't even ask me about the Frankfurt Smiling Experiment...!

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