As a rule, I prefer face to face. But right now, all of our worlds are on the screen. And all the information we get about what’s happening in the world out there comes down the tube too. We are living in a perpetual TV studio – either waiting to go on Zoom for our next conversation or actually on Zoom having it. Everyone’s universe has become a 13 inch screen. But this actually suits everyone. Let me explain why. I’ve done a lot of work looking at different personality styles. The system I prefer divides the entire world’s population into four personality types: Drivers, who are fast acting, task-oriented people (think, human Nike – Just Do It); Analyticals, who are detail obsessed, slow, methodical, task oriented people (think, accountants – let’s get this right, shall we?); Amiables, who are deliberative, relationship orientated people (think, life’s natural diplomats); and the best group: Expressives, who are show offs, low attention span, sparky people people (think, Circus Ringmaster or Graham Norton). No prizes for guessing which one I am.
Living our lives on screen suits all four types. For the drivers, it gives the illusion of being in control. Drivers love to be in control, They can turn the camera on or off, mute people mid sentence, retain exclusive control of the hosting and so deny everyone else any freedom to play with the controls, change their background image or have any fun. Driver Heaven. Analyticals like it because it gives them the one thing they cherish more than anything else: physical distance from other units of humanity so they can listen attentively and think without others crowding their personal space or having to pretend to enjoy being in a room with real people. Amiables like it because, well, it’s just lovely to see everyone and meet up, isn’t it! And expressives love it because THEY’RE ON TELLY! And every expressive loves a stage. Lights, camera, action: it’s showtime. And showtime is our favourite time. We love an audience. The screen makes us all happy because it lets us be who we are and edit our world to suit ourselves. In the real world, we have to try and meet people half way, play by their rules, listen to them drone on and on, dress up smart, be on best behaviour. On screen, things are perfect. In the real world, they’re messy.
Safe in our home TV studios, we can all be the amazing people we wish we were – the stars of the silver screen we wish other people to see. When the curfew on living life is lifted, and we all nervously commute to our first physical meetings for months, we will step back out in to a now unfamiliar world of reality rather than reality TV. We will fumble in vain for the mute button and the ‘camera off’ function and our discourse will be live and in the raw. It will feel weird. Real hand shakes and hugs. Physical contact. No camera pancake or duck tape stuck behind the ears to keep your face in place, no nakedness below the waist whilst you wear a butter-wouldn’t-melt expression on camera. No clothes pegs clipped down the spine of your shirt to keep everything looking pristine and camera ready. We will actually be there: late because of the train, windblown, damp from the rain, sweaty palmed, bad breathed, laddered tights, threadbare, hair unkempt and roots showing, papers forgotten at home, exposed, vulnerable and oh, so human once more. Shit. No thanks. Make up! I’m not going anywhere. As it turns out, this digital screen world suits me just fine. I’m ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille.