I attended a talk today at the AnthroTech MeetUp — a MeetUp that combines Anthropology and Technology — where the speakers were discussing the phenomenon of on-line dating. My favorite question from the audience was about the disparity between the profile someone presents on-line, and what happens when you meet them in person.
His very words, I believe, were “You often know what somebody is like in the first five seconds after you meet them in person.”
I then asked a follow-up question, which I posed as a research problem: “Would it be possible for an on-line experience to convey the information we somehow manage to absorb about a person in the first five seconds that we meet them in person?”
I think it’s an interesting research problem not only because it might produce a useful practical result, but because I am genuinely unsure whether such a thing would be possible. After all, we don’t really understand all of the factors that go into our ability to size up a person in just a few seconds. Is it some subtlety in their voice, their body language, their scent, the way their eyes move when we look at them?
Is it all of these things together, somehow processed by our brains below the level of consciousness, or is it something else that science has not yet identified?
I really have no idea. But wouldn’t it be interesting to try to figure it out?