Typical Minds and Typical Faces

…as I wandered around, downtown…
looking around at all the faces…
trying to… recognize the places
their minds must be—
to generate the shapes I see

simulate them on my own features
the body is my teacher
of how they feel
making these strangers real
to me

So go some of the lyrics in a song I wrote last year, “Lost & Found”. Listen to it here.

I was thinking about these lines again today as I walked down Mission Street in San Francisco, the “downtown” to which these lyrics referred. I just arrived yesterday, back for the first time in over 7 months.

I found myself now, as then, looking at the faces of people I passed, and shifting my own face to match their expressions. In addition to getting a workout for both my facial muscles and my empathy centers, I’ve learned a few interesting things from this easy exercise.

People make a lot of different faces

You can walk past 10 different people, and your face will do 10 different things. Some might be similar in various ways, but they’re all distinct, which I find really curious—I got no sense of there being more or less popular faces, particularly.

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A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

I'm developing scalable solutions to fractal coordination challenges (between parts of people as well as between people) based on non-naive trust and intentionality. More about me.

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