Another Way to Say "I'm Fine."

You do it too. You see someone you haven’t seen in a while and remark about their hair, or weight loss or physique. You tell them how great they look and assume this means life is swell.
But what if there were other indicators? What if you could look at an approaching friend and see that their happiness monitor is high, that their work indicator was flashing “raise” or their financial picture was glowing?
It’s said that a first impression means everything. A glance from across the room can strike fear, longing, disgust, desire… we’ve all felt it.
These impressions also yield judgment. He’s dressed well; he must have money. She’s smiling, she must be happy. He’s thin; he must be healthy. She’s wearing diamonds; she must be in love.
But what if all the external codes were off? What if the thin man was dying, the diamond-clad girl was in a horrible relationship and the smiling girl was putting up a false front for the occasion?
What if we could know things about people from the outside, visible calculators of their situation? Would you want to?

5 responses on “Another Way to Say "I'm Fine."

  1. Karen

    The quick answer is yes, I would like to know, but how much of a burden would that become? And would the resulting emotional reaction be empathetic or would we slowly become inured to it? So maybe it’s just better that we only know what others show us.

  2. linda-sands.com

    I like how you called it a burden. I never thought of it that way. I saw it as a way through all the crap we pile on– the most obvious downside to this would be that our indicators would also be on– hard to keep any secrets that way, eh?

  3. Family Adventure

    Oh my, Linda, I love your posts! You are so right – again. First impressions can often be all wrong. But I think it works both ways. People send signals out, true, but on the receiving end, people also make assumptions about what those signals mean. I mean, some of us are acutely aware of how much a suit costs, etc, while others are completely oblivious to what someone is wearing. What I sometimes think about is how many times I may have lost the opportunity to form a friendship because my initial reaction to a person was negative. I am sure that has happened more times than I’d like to think about.
    Definitely food for thought. Thanks!
    Heidi

  4. linda-sands.com

    I keep thinking about a story my friend told me about the time she spent at a nudist camp. She said that everyone was on equal ground because there were no obvious indicators of wealth or power or prestige. Though I’m sure they were making judgments on another level- if you know what I mean…