People who don’t know for sure how they look can’t possibly strut amidst other people because they couldn’t tell if they’re prettier or of a better stalk.
Every morning, just before I walk out the door into the real world, I take a cursory glance at my reflection in the mirror. Most of you do too. Even just a few steps outside the door, some of us still can’t walk past a reflective surface – usually a car window – without looking. The average lady packs, among other things, a portable mirror in her handbag. Our cell phone screens are getting ever bigger and more reflective they can easily pass off as mirrors. At nearly every turn it seems there’s something to help indulge our obsession with ourselves.
That’s what social media and much of our online presence is about. As if the proliferation of reflective surfaces wasn’t already enough, we’ve perfected our vanity into an art form. We recreate ourselves; craft a cute little avatar in our own image to help reinforce the perceptions we have of ourselves and we watch it grow and interact while making little adjustments along the way. Or not. This in some respect is much like the mirror effect, having to look at ourselves through the looking glass, if you may.
What if we had a world without mirrors or reflective surfaces? I know, that would mess up the physics of light as we know it, but let’s assume light would still retain all its properties and all other optical laws still held sway. What if we couldn’t see or tell how we looked except through the eyes of others? What kind of world would we have?
Concepts like beauty and self-esteem would take on new meanings. The latter very likely won’t be part of our parlance since the very concept of self-esteem arises from how we see ourselves. Narcissism would have to be extremely hard to pull off, if at all possible. People who don’t know for sure how they look can’t possibly strut amidst other people because they couldn’t tell if they’re prettier or of a better stalk. Egotism and inferiority complexes may be non-existent in such a world. What others say about us then would hold so much import then. It also stands to reason that it may be relatively easy to mess with people’s perception of themselves – ergo, their self-esteem.
Vanity (a product of how we see ourselves), regardless of how much stick it gets as a concept, is useful in our world as it is. Even nature supports our vanity. Water is reflective and is probably the first mirror man had. Vanity sells, and a right dose of it is inextricably linked to your level of success in this world. But it could also be argued that it is inextricably linked with everything that ails our world. In the movie “The Devil’s Advocate,” the devil, masterfully played by Al Pacino, fondly quips: “Vanity, it’s my favorite sin.” How true.
I don’t know how feasible it’d be to live in a world without a means to tell how we look except through the eyes of others. Trust and vulnerability would be practically interchangeable and take on a more profound meaning. How we do business, how and which leaders get chosen and virtually every rule of the human social contract/construct would be altered. There’s probably no way to tell if the realities of such a world could be implicitly better than the one we currently have.
Solomon Osadolo is a curious young man who has a knack for finding stuff out. He likes to read and he takes particular interest in technology, music, psychology, writing. He blogs at www.soloxpress.blogspot.com and tweets from @soloxpress.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.