“Love Life,” December 7, 2020.
The human penchant for maintaining a clear demarcation between a front and back stage was made even more stark during the pandemic. Artist: Adrian Tomine
Breaking eye contact makes you a better conversationalist
Studies show people who are forced to maintain eye contact take longer to recall words than those who are allowed to take a break from the mental stimulation of staring into someone else's eyes. Though maintaining eye contact is important for building emotional connections, looking away is key for having focused and productive conversations.
"A total instituion may be defined as a place of residence and work where a large number of like-situated individuals, cut off from the wider society for an appreciable period of time, together lead an enclosed, formally administered round of life. Prisons serve as a clear example." (Goffman 1968).
from Erving Goffman, Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity
"The stigmatized individual is asked to act so as to imply neither that his burden is heavy nor that bearing it has made him different from us; at the same time he must keep himself at that remove from us which assures our painlessly being able to confirm this belief about him. Put differently, he is advised to reciprocate naturally with an acceptance of himself and us, an acceptance of him that we have not quite extended to him in the first place. A PHANTOM ACCEPTANCE is thus allowed to…
SAP BrandVoice: Why People Act So Oddly In Elevators
There's a reason we avoid each other in elevators. You stare at the buttons, check your phone, or look anywhere except at other people because you instinctively react to a perceived threat of aggression from them. Even though there's likely no actual threat, being trapped in a small area signals you to protect yourself by de-escalating the situation from the get-go.
"The first thing I do when I get home is make myself look as publicly unacceptable as possible." - For Goffman, this meme would have been the perfect illustration of front stage and back stage behavior.
The emergence of social media is evidence that capitalism has found a way to marketize Impression management. "It's an interesting thing: The internet isn't about having a good time -- it's about showing people you're having a good time. When you go out to bars and clubs, nobody's actually dancing or enjoying themselves; they're all taking photos of themselves at the bar so that later on they can say, 'I was there, wasn't it great?' It's crazy." ~ Daniel Radcliffe