Images by Wells Baum
A mirror shows us who we are. It doesn’t lie, reflecting blemishes and other imperfections. The phone’s screen is also a mirror, but one that’s used to project an edited version of ourselves.
Selfies are customizable. The phone allows people to pinpoint the side of the face and angle that makes them look best. People use blur tools and filters to further enhance their look. The aim is to publish the best version of themselves.
Seeing your face off a reflection though is more complicated. We can’t really control the way our face shines off a bus window or how it ripples in the water. But we accept this the lack of control because of the contextual effect. It makes us look interesting, narcissistic yet natural.
Put a mirror up and people will judge themselves. Give them a smartphone and they’ll preset their look, perfecting it afterward. But a reflection is distorted, creating an organic depth misperception that makes others curious.
Reflections are shadows of ourselves, an augmented reality we happily accept.