The science of smiling

This post is long overdue. At my place of work, smiling seems to be essential. If you don’t smile 24/7, you are viewed in negative light. Not by the guests (because honestly, I don’t think they care), but by other colleagues. Especially senior management. To them, if you’re not constantly smiling, they assume you have some sort of genetic defect. Either that, or they classify you as an angry suicidal bitch. That’s not a direct quote, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

Personally, I’m not a big smiler. Smiling consumes a lot of my already low energy levels. Also, I don’t see a need for it. If something is funny or cute or delicious, I will smile. But I don’t walk down the street and smile at people. Because it’s just wrong. I fucking hate it when people (especially strangers) smile at me, so why the hell would I smile at them? It’s the Golden Rule.

Anyway, the other day I was alerted that I must change my facial expression, especially at work. This is something I cannot do, however, because I’m a very bad fake-smiler. Either my smile is genuine, or I don’t smile at all. That’s just how I roll.

I decided to conduct research on the subject, to see if there is a way for one to actually perfect the art of fake smiling. Apparently it’s a lot more difficult than I imagined. According to an article I read on BBC,

Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract. These are the muscles that pull the corners of the mouth outwards.

Genuine smiles, on the other hand, are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. As well as making the mouth muscles move, the muscles that raise the cheeks – the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis – also contract, making the eyes crease up, and the eyebrows dip slightly.

Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones. For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold – the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid – moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Very fucking interesting. After reading this, I decided to test myself. Can I spot the difference between a fake smile and a genuine one? I watched a series of short video clips. Each clip was about five seconds long, and I could only watch each clip once, at the end of which I had to click on “genuine” or “fake.” I scored a 19/20. That means I’m a genius and should become ruler of the world. It also means that fake smiles are not convincing, so why smile at all?

With Google at my fingertips, I decided to search for the answer to this question. Why smile? I found a website about the Top 10 Reasons to Smile, which are exactly my Top 10 Reasons Not to Smile.

  1. Smiling makes us attractive. We are drawn to people who smile. What the shit? I don’t want people to be drawn to me! Especially at work! I’ve found that when I mistakenly smile in public because I remembered something funny, a guest actually comes up to me and either asks me a stupid question (i.e. “Are there fish in the Lazy River?” – IT’S A FUCKING WATERPARK! NO THERE ARE NO FISH IN THE HIGHLY CHLORINATED WATER! ARE YOU FUCKING RETARDED?!) or wants to befriend me. Specifically old people. Like wrinkly old men and women tell me how pretty and nice I am. Fuck that.
  2. Smiling changes our mood. Okay, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I’m fully in control of my own mood. I thought that was normal? If I’m angry it’s because I want to be angry. Smiling in an angry context doesn’t make sense. Unless it’s an evil, malicious smile, like the one I do right before a kill. Hahaha, you’re gunna die.
  3. Smiling is contagious. God forbid I ever get stuck in a room full of smiling people.
  4. Smiling relieves stress. No, that’s wrong. Unproven. Rejected.
  5. Smiling boosts your immune system. Are you fucking serious?! So the cure for AIDS is smiling? Impossible.
  6. Smiling lowers your blood pressure. I already have low blood pressure. So thank you very much zygomaticus major muscle, but I don’t need you.
  7. Smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Incorrect. I’ve broken my spine. Smiling didn’t help. I’ve seen women give birth before. Smiling doesn’t help.
  8. Smiling lifts the face and makes you look younger. I don’t want my face lifted. And if anything, smiling only creates more wrinkles in the long run.
  9. Smiling makes you seem successful. Ha! “Seem successful.” I don’t need to be a fake-smiling douschebag to seem successful. I can just tote around a blood-stained axe, wear my good suit, and bludgeon people to death. How’s that for successful?
  10. Smiling helps you stay positive. I can’t even comment on this one. Posi-what? Brain… shutting… down… Can not process. Must… frown…

So there you have it. All I learned from this little online research endeavour is that smiling is for pansies. So unless you say something funny or approach with caution (and presents), don’t expect me to flash a smile.

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5 Responses to “The science of smiling”

  1. Paul Says:

    “Personally, I’m not a big smiler”

    EIGENTLICH??!! I’ve never noticed that!!!

  2. Timmayyy Says:

    OKAY DUDE THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE MOST FUNNIEST POST EVER.
    I LOVE YOU.
    YOU GET A BIG ASS HUG LATER CAUSE I JUST HAD MAD DOCTORS APPOINTMENTS AND BLOOD WORK AND WAS REALLY PISSED AND NOW IM IN A SUPER HAPPY MOOD. AND IM SMILING. THANKS HAHA
    LIEBE DUUU RON RON!

  3. onamatopoeia Says:

    Paul: Sarcasm is unnecessary.

    Ten: YOU’RE fucking funny. I love you more, Tim Tim!

  4. bob Says:

    oh my shit… you have a conversation with someone and they research the living shit outta it and to put the cherry on top write a post on their blog! must’ve had an inpact (which i seriously doubt)… oh… the fake smile you pulled today nearly (just nearly) had me fooled… then i remembered you called me a (what was that??) pansie and you dont smile for shit!

    oh… nice blog by the by…

  5. onamatopoeia Says:

    Yeah well, what can I say Bob? You’re an inspiring kinda guy. :) –>fake

    No but seriously. I don’t think you can be classified as a pansy:

    pan·sy \ˈpan-zē\ n. 1.) a garden plant (Viola wittrockiana) derived chiefly from the hybridization of the European Johnny-jump-up (Viola tricolor) with other wild violets 2.) (a) a weak or effeminate man or boy; (b) usually disparaging: an openly homosexual man [syn. sissy, faggot, queer, wuss]

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