looking at you

mirrorglasses.jpg“A picture showing a pair of eyes attached to a cafeteria collection box significantly raises the donated amount compared to a flower symbol…” Teehee. Presumably the eyes trigger a reframing; the contributors situate their choice in a different context. A more social one? That effect what ever it actually is might be a portion of what people are reaching for with all those damn TV cameras. “Totem poles put up in villages in North America several hundred years ago standing vigilant at attention, with ever-watchful eyes.” It’s got associations with the managerial tendency to over value close-monitoring (“the cleaning wrasse fish grooms its client fish in the friendliest way when other clients watch, but without an audience it prefers to bite off pieces of its client’s skin”) and the rationalizations used to justify the cost savings inherent in cubical office layouts. It reminds me of the way that a smiley face on the check increases tipping. Important because apparently almost anything on the check increases tipping, including a credit card logo.

Let’s be simple minded and say that people have only two modes of behavior, the one they adopt when watched v.s. the one they adopt in private. How would we determine which of these is more authentic. Maybe this pair creates something that’s more functional than either one alone would be. That mimic’s my presumption that the constraints of group membership generate value that overwhelms their costs on personal autonomy.

There is something here about the difference between gossip and spying. Gossip is about passing private information about a 3rd party outside their oversight. Spying is the collecting of that data. What offends (or frightens) about gossip is the fear that your story will be told poorly. What offends (or frightens) about spying is that you do have two modes and you certainly would have adopted your social and public one if you’d known others were watching; we would have presented those of our many persona that was appropriate to the group in effect.

The mirrored sunglasses are rude; they are spy gear. At the same time they make the wearer appear aloof. They signal that he is not a social participant. That marks him as an outsider.

1 thought on “looking at you

  1. Shirley

    You have packed so much food for thought into this short post, I could get weeks of new insights by contemplating these seeds of ideas. Awesome!

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