7/26/2010

When I am King: A Time for Reflection

When I am King...

Everyone will smile for the camera. Everywhere.

I was leaving an office building the other day and was amused to see a woman approach the building and stop to fix her hair as she stared into the reflection that the mirrored door presented. The door opened into a building housing hundreds of people, any number of which might have been behind the glass at that time. But to her, it was just a mirror. And a chance to fix her hair.

We all do this: any time we see a mirror, we see just how awful things have gotten and we make some feeble attempt to patch something that nature irrevocably screwed up. We push the hair down that pops back up immediately. We scratch off the scabs from hitherto unknown shaving cuts, allowing them to bleed all over again. We scrape off the bit of chocolate cake that apparently missed our mouth the first time and then enjoy dessert a second time around. Or we do a quick zipper check (unzipped trousers is something else I’d like to see fixed. But that’s another topic entirely).

But that mirror doesn’t have to be a bathroom mirror - we’ll take any reflection anywhere. Give us a look at ourselves and we can’t help trying to fix the wreckage. This could be a car mirror, a reflective gum wrapper, or, most often, some mirrored glass in a random building.

It’s this last bit that I love; someone will go up to a public piece of glass and treat it like their own private boudoir. Meanwhile, there could be dozens of slovenly people on the other side of that dressing-room mirror, looking out at the person plucking that errant nose-hair. It encourages a dynamic of voyeurism that’s not otherwise available outside of seedy strip clubs. Reality TV tries to satisfy this need, but it’s too scripted and over-acted; we can’t really capture the moment unless the poor saps don’t know they’re on camera.

When I am King, webcams will be mounted behind all mirrored glass. No more will these episodes be reserved for those lucky few that happen to be on the other side when the person stops to spit-wash the lunch off their face. Instead, the precious scenes will be captured and broadcast live for everyone to enjoy. Isn't this the true purpose of the web?

If we, as a people, can’t learn to discriminate between private and public places, then we owe it to the rest of us to make our public indiscretions as public as possible.
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