I’ve been trying to come up with a witty title for this post all day, but I worried what I thought was humorous would just come off as snarky (such as one rejected title “Dear Neurotypicals: plastering your faces all over things does not make me want to buy them”) and so instead I just went with blunt honesty.
I have always found it weird that people put their pictures on advertisements for services they offer or things they are trying to sell. If you sell real estate, doesn’t it make more sense to use a picture of some beautiful scenery of the region you work out of rather than a portrait photo of yourself? At least that’s how it’s always seemed to me, anyway.
As I’ve thought more about this since my diagnosis, I’ve come to suspect that there’s something that most people get out of this type of advertising that I don’t. Advertisers are always doing research to determine what works, so apparently this type of marketing has appeal or they wouldn’t waste their money on it. There’s probably some sort of reassurance or trust response when a prospective buyer/client/etc. can see the face of the person behind the business? I don’t know, that may be a wild guess, because I don’t have that response. Far from it. Faces staring at me from an ad, a business card, a giveaway promotional mug make me uncomfortable.
No. Not uncomfortable – anxious. The part of me that has been conditioned to accept ‘normal’ society substituted the word uncomfortable, but if I listen to a deeper, more primitive part of me, I recognize that seeing a face in that context – especially if it’s unexpected, like when I open an email from a stranger with a picture in the signature section – gives me a little anxious jolt.
Facebook was hard for me when I first began using it. I started on the Internet with Usenet and Listservs and POP email – signatures sometimes had elaborate ASCII art, but not actual pictures. Suddenly being bombarded by all those profile pics (and oh gods the damned selfies) was an unpleasant sensation. I think I’ve gotten used to it mainly because I have developed the ability to visually filter out things I don’t want to see – though in some cases, I have been known to hide a post or two featuring images where someone is staring right into the camera, because it feels like their eyes are boring into me.
At work we just upgraded to a different mail system, one that adds a profile picture area that shows in the list of messages and at the top of each message; it’s like a small electric shock every time I open Outlook and see faces. I even tried to find a way to turn it off.
I don’t know if I am explaining this very well… it’s hard to articulate. That’s the reason it’s taken me three days to get this post written, and it wasn’t all just the cat’s fault.
Anyway, I don’t know if this is an Autistic thing or just a me thing (though I suspect it’s related to the eye contact issue, so maybe not just me?) but the one time I commented to a coworker that I didn’t understand why salespeople insisted upon putting their pictures in their emails I got kind of a strange look.
I like looking at pictures of dogs, or cats, or horses – or spiders. Just not people. Well, or monkeys. I have never been a fan of monkeys.
Probably because they look a lot like people.
Featured Image: Grey Grasshopper, facing camera, perched on a wood deck.