Cosmetic surgery bookings are up thanks to video chats. Auckland surgeon Stephen Mills calls it the "Zoom component. "
He told the Herald inquiries had increased by 20 per cent since the coronavirus lockdowns began. Why? Mill says: "When you look at yourself on Zoom you get a bit of a shock."
There is, of course, a cheap and easy solution to the video call 'shock'. One that doesn't involve surgery. You could turn your video off. It takes less than a second. To quote Zoom instructions: "Right-click your video to display the menu, then choose, Hide Myself. You no longer see the video of yourself, even though others in the meeting can still see the video of you."
I've seen people spend entire video calls staring at themselves. It's a common and unproductive way to behave. You can't give 100 per cent to your friends, loved ones or colleagues sitting there checking yourself out.
Imagine taking a mirror to a restaurant, placing it next to your date and then ogling yourself throughout the meal. Your mental health would come into question.
Yet the only difference between staring at yourself in public and on a video chat is the secrecy. In the privacy of our homes, we become Narcissus, unable to leave the allure of our own image. Perhaps it's time to ask ourselves the real question; of all the smurfs we could be, do we want to be Vanity Smurf?
Studies show that humans not only focus mainly on ourselves we assume everyone else is focused on us too. It's called the "spotlight phenomena."
We have an innate tendency to forget that we are the centre of our own world, not everyone else's.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Tom Gilovich demonstrated the phenomena. The participants were told to wear an embarrassing t-shirt into a meeting.
In every case, they wildly overestimated the number of people who noticed the shirt. We have the perception that everyone is looking at us. In reality, no one cares what we say or wear as much as we do ourselves.
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We remember our contributions to conversations more than others do. We believe our comments and jokes have more impact than they do. We are so focused on ourselves; we notice very little about anyone else. Video calls are a potent reminder of this innate vanity. It's hard to disguise the fact we are self-focused when we are staring directly into our own faces in a meeting.
Not that looking at yourself is always wrong. There is functionality to it. Mirrors are handy for zit and boil inspections, checking your form at the gym, spotting food on your face before job interviews. Most people need to look presentable from time to time, and a reflective device can help with that.
I often fail to look in the mirror before work. As a result, I regularly arrive with toothpaste on my chin, cheeks and shirt. There are multiple causes. I forget to turn on the fan, and my mirror gets all steamed up.
I don't keep my lips closed around my electric toothbrush, and it fires the stuff everywhere like a lawnmower without a catcher. Also, my work starts at 5 am, and I am always running late. I don't have time to check my appearance.
his morning routine story of mine is, of course, classic spotlighting. To you, it was words written by someone with terrible grammar who thinks his life is more significant than it is. To me, as the central character in my life, my toothpaste chat was gold.
New Zealanders are getting plastic surgery because they don't like the way they look in video chats. There must be a more straightforward solution.
Surely we could all avoid pain and expense by turning the video off. Literally and metaphorically. We could try zoning in on the world outside ourselves. Listening and learning from others instead of staring into our personal facial abyss.
There are more interesting people out there than you or I so next time you are on a video chat, why not try to be Papa instead of Vanity Smurf.