10/16/20: Being seen as a person with a mind

This is also about first impressions and how different it is to meet someone through their writing or ideas rather than their bodies/looks…

I was talking to a client with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia the other day, and I remembered something I used to think about a long time ago when people criticized the lack of personal and physical contact on the internet, etc.

For one, I’d say- it saves lives. Teenagers who feel totally alone and different and would be at high risk for mental illness and suicide can find others who are like them, and they can live far apart and connect with each other. I certainly would have loved finding people that way in high school; I often felt there was something wrong with me.

Anyway, I always marveled at how the internet can bring people together and cut through all the judgments about how people look and other aspects of identity but especially the way people make quick judgments about looks. You can research it that employers do discriminate and hire people they find mainstream attractive. In addition, if people are focused on writing and the non visual aspects of technology, it’s people’s minds and how they think that are on display, which is a wonderful thing.

Now that people are working through video conferencing, and even from home on the news or other shows, usually they don’t see much below the shoulders or maybe torso and individuals have control over how much of themselves they want to show. It still can involve visuals, but I bet women feel safer about being harassed or touched obviously physically they don’t have to interact, plus they can show their head and neck and avoid others seeing what they’re wearing or look like below their necks.

These are some of the positives of working at home that are very important, especially for individuals of all genders who don’t want to be treated any kind of way based on their bodies. People with body dysmorphia or just people who are whatever size or shape, or people who don’t like being looked at, can work without the distractions of anxiety around that, which significantly lowers this extra added anxiety that can last all day and affect people’s work and ability to work with others. Especially with work I think people will be/have been more productive of course factoring in the big stress of Covid.

Also people with certain eating disorders have embarrassing symptoms they obsess about hiding in the work place. There are other mental issues that are highly stigmatized like OCD that result in a great increase in comfort working at home and removing the extra symptoms of anxiety, panic, social anxiety that can cause terrible suffering on the commute anticipating the day and at work as well as on the way home.

With blogs, which are still alive and well despite “vlogs” and social media and apps that arrived after blogging, people have even less focus on looks and mainly on the mind of the blogger, how they think and write. A writer who might never leave their house due to debilitating issues of some kind, can flourish and interact and be appreciated by others for who they are, not what they look like on the outside.

I myself have always loved clothes and fashion and wearing weird stuff because it brings me joy and sometimes puts a smile on someone’s face. Sometimes I’ve missed people not seeing my kooky pants or crazy shoes or long necklaces, and I can see where some derive self esteem from their looks miss being physically around others much more often than before.

Of course there is always all the social media and YouTube for such folks but I know very outgoing extraverts aren’t enjoying the restrictions of Covid at present changing work and socializing. Others miss going to events like poetry readings, music performances, theater etc. as well as social gatherings may be having the opposite issues where they feel depressed that much that brings joy to them has been taken away. Even funerals have lost the important aspects of the physical,

Ideally, eventually, I hope that this forced societal experiment will result in more choices and options for work, so a company can keep a great employee who moves to another area and people with “limitations” and introverts can have more control over contact with others, while lots of others will be back working in the same physical space. The country is heavily extroverted; maybe many non extroverts have adapted, but these options benefit extroverts, socially anxious people, the above mentioned and those in areas where there aren’t jobs for their talents and abilities.

I do think this whole phenomenon is terrible for most kids, young and teenagers. For adolescents, hanging out in person is so important. People like me would have sometimes stayed home to hang out with people on the internet, but most teenagers need social interactions and finding their tribe, going places together, even studying at each other’s houses.

Most of this is probably obvious. Last but not least, for me, my studio office is now arranged only for me to do my art and therapist work and not oriented towards having in person clients. I’ve moved everything completely since being in this situation, plus the place is a mess. My receipts and documents are on the floor and stuff is all over the place!

Anyway, I’m an idealist so it may not be realistic to expect we can move to hybrid options for adults in the workplace and have kids enjoy being in school again. My daughter loves basketball and track. I was really sad when last year’s all remote school stretched out and then accepting she will spend 8th grade at home instead of ruling the school and having fun events and moving around all day.

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