I was invited to a masquerade party at short notice, last week. My very first one. Whilst I pulled together my outfit relatively absentmindedly [side note: thanks to www.maskparty.co.uk for dispatching my order so quickly!], I could tell that others had put a lot of thought and effort into theirs. Wearing a mask that covered a large portion of my face made me feel… different. Incognito. And being in the vicinity of others who were also relatively anonymous, like an actress playing a role, I felt like an “AKA” version of myself. In Gemini terms, the other twin took centre stage!
The masquerade party had an attractively mysterious aura. As an amateur psychologist, it made me think about typical social norms when meeting people, and how easily they are manipulated when one of the senses is partly obscured. As we couldn’t fully see each other’s faces (with the majority of masks, the only visible part of the face was the eyes), we were forced to use what we could see more intently and we had to rely on other senses to help guide our decisions.
Strangers stood closer to each other.
Interactions were more tactile.
People looked into each other’s eyes for longer while they conversed.
For me at least, facial expressions play a major role in shaping interaction. Without fully being able to see how the person we’re talking to is reacting (facial expressions are typically more honest than dialogue), we are left to hazard a guess at how we are being perceived. It brought up a few questions for me, and made me wonder about how much we can control what version of ‘us’ others observe.
When people look at you, what do you want them to see?