Mirrors and their anthropological effects

Take a mirror that with a dial can be shaped to either be more convex or more concave, give it to a test subject and tell them to select the ‘correct’ setting – most won’t be able to do it properly because of the distorted sense of self perception we have.

Listening to the CBC today, Karen Virag explores numerous reflections on how mirrors have shaped our lives and some interesting facts and misconceptions. While doing so, she speaks with a writer who pledged to not look at a her reflection for a full year.

The most interesting thing she said while explaining her adventure was that she, of all things, felt lonely. She talks about finding solace in her shadow – her only reminder of herself. And then she talks about the focus it put on the other people in her life, instead of herself. It made me think of how different our lives are today versus when we were evolving. Or even a 100 years ago. How often did we have access to a shiny surface that showed us our reflection? Not half as much as today.

If we feel lonely now when not able to see ourselves in the mirror, does this mean we were a much more cohesively social people when we didn’t have ready access to mirrors? Did we seek out social connection with more vigor? Did we simply put more importance on or concentrate on others more? What kind of a life did this make for humans on a day to day basis?

I’ll be trying to look in the mirror less… but trying this for even an afternoon shows me how ingrained this action is in our psyches.



Filed under All posts, Thoughts, studies and science

3 responses to “Mirrors and their anthropological effects

  1. TR

    This is because someone bought you a mirror for Christmas, right?

  2. Wayne

    Perhaps you should embrace the beauty of the human form through a reflective surface instead of sabotaging it and depending on a lifeless shadow for meaningless comfort?

  3. Elizabeth

    A very interesting question. I would suspect that we are now all very used to seeing ourselves in the mirror and we are used to the company of our reflection. Had we not grown up and lived with mirrors our whole lives, we could not miss our reflections or feel lonely without them.

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