Sunday, August 5, 2007

Facial Profiling

"I ain't here to argue about his facial features..." - KW

You know you do it. Not even a hair of doubt in my mind about that. It's called facial profiling and it is one of the main components of social evolution or social Darwinism. Call it survival of the facially fittest. Basically, it entails you giving, subconsciously or not, a social edge or lack thereof to a complete stranger based solely on their facial appearance. Peep the scenarios:

i. You are sitting on a plane with an empty seat to your left. Of course, you have that minute anticipation towards seeing who you will be sitting next to. Will s/he be cute? Will s/he be annoying? Will s/he not stop talking? You finally have someone come to your row, ask to get pass you.. you look up, and, inevitably, you facially profile...

ii. You are at a bar with your friends. Having fun, enjoying the drinks/music. A stranger comes up to you, most likely to make a more than friendly attempt for your time later on in the evening. You turn to them and, inevitably, you facially profile...

iii. You are at the gym, running on the treadmill. Sweating up a storm, you finish up your run with a satisfied sense of accomplishment. You reach down for you towel, but find it missing. You turn around to find a fellow patron of the gymnasium with it. As they are handing it over, inevitably, you facially profile...

Facial profiling is not stereotyping. Correction, it may be. But it is a much more personal expression of closely-held views. It occurs the moment you lock eyes with the victim, and it only lasts a second or two. You register the image, profile it completely, and move ahead with your actions. You may not realize you are doing it, but you are.

Is it a bad thing? Depends on your view of the world. Facial profiling is an affliction that affects all; only the blind are lucky enough to escape it. Facial profiling forces the infected to make grand and, usually misguided, judgments on their victims from an extremely brief image registration. Basically, you judge, jury and execute the shit out of people because of what they look like.

And you DO do it.

Severe cases of facial profiling leave remnants of denial in the infected. These "good" and "unbiased" people claim to never "judge books by their covers" or "be that shallow." Goodness, no! What these people fail to realize is that facial profiling takes different forms. Ignoring people, or just choosing not to acknowledge them is the most common, and, the most unrecognizable form of facial profiling out there. It occurs when people facially profile someone and decide that their being isn't worth acknowledging by a welcoming smile, a hello, or by even an extra glance.

After 22 and three-fourths years of empirical evidence, I have come to realize that I am a facial profiler.

And you are too.

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