Link 17 Page Essay Mirrored

SAN FRANCISCO — Snapchat pioneered a feature named Stories, which lets people share their photographs or videos to tell a tale about their day or trip or event. After 24 hours, the Stories disappear.

The feature soon became so popular for the ephemeral messaging app that Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, took notice. Instagram adopted a feature similar to Snapchat Stories, called Instagram Stories, last year. Facebook’s Messenger service later followed suit, as did WhatsApp, another messaging app owned by the social network.

On Tuesday, Facebook completed its mirroring of Snapchat Stories by rolling out Facebook Stories. The feature lets people share videos and photographs in the Facebook app, which will appear on top of the News Feed. After 24 hours, the Facebook Stories also disappear.

Facebook introduced Stories as part of several changes to help its nearly two billion users around the world share more photographs and videos on its mobile app. Apart from Facebook Stories, the social network also promoted a new in-app camera that has visual effects like filters.

“We want to make it fast, fun and easy for people to share creative photos and videos with whomever they choose, for however long they choose — and the more we share with each other, the more open and connected our community can be,” Connor Hayes, a Facebook product manager, wrote in a blog post as part of the rollout.

Facebook and Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, have had a complicated history. Facebook offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat in 2013, which a Snapchat co-founder, Evan Spiegel, turned down. Snapchat’s user base is much smaller than Facebook’s, but Snapchat has turned some of social networking’s conventional wisdom on its head, with ephemerality and more authentic connections.

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The mirror technique does not always keep knees from jerking. When it comes to socially acceptable forms of stereotyping, said Dr. Bodenhausen, like branding all politicians liars or all lawyers crooks, the presence of a mirror may end up augmenting rather than curbing the willingness to pigeonhole.

The link between self-awareness and elaborate sociality may help explain why the few nonhuman species that have been found to recognize themselves in a mirror are those with sophisticated social lives. Our gregarious great ape cousins — chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans and gorillas — along with dolphins and Asian elephants, have passed the famed mirror self-recognition test, which means they will, when given a mirror, scrutinize marks that had been applied to their faces or bodies. The animals also will check up on personal hygiene, inspecting their mouths, nostrils and genitals.

Yet not all members of a certifiably self-reflective species will pass the mirror test. Tellingly, said Diana Reiss, a professor of psychology at Hunter College who has studied mirror self-recognition in elephants and dolphins, “animals raised in isolation do not seem to show mirror self-recognition.”

For that matter, humans do not necessarily see the face in the mirror either. In a report titled “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Enhancement in Self-Recognition,” which appears online in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Nicholas Epley and Erin Whitchurch described experiments in which people were asked to identify pictures of themselves amid a lineup of distracter faces. Participants identified their personal portraits significantly quicker when their faces were computer enhanced to be 20 percent more attractive. They were also likelier, when presented with images of themselves made prettier, homelier or left untouched, to call the enhanced image their genuine, unairbrushed face. Such internalized photoshoppery is not simply the result of an all-purpose preference for prettiness: when asked to identify images of strangers in subsequent rounds of testing, participants were best at spotting the unenhanced faces.

How can we be so self-delusional when the truth stares back at us? “Although we do indeed see ourselves in the mirror every day, we don’t look exactly the same every time,” explained Dr. Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. There is the scruffy-morning you, the assembled-for-work you, the dressed-for-an-elegant-dinner you. “Which image is you?” he said. “Our research shows that people, on average, resolve that ambiguity in their favor, forming a representation of their image that is more attractive than they actually are.”

When we look in the mirror, our relative beauty is not the only thing we misjudge. In a series of studies, Dr. Bertamini and his colleagues have interviewed scores of people about what they think the mirror shows them. They have asked questions like, Imagine you are standing in front of a bathroom mirror; how big do you think the image of your face is on the surface? And what would happen to the size of that image if you were to step steadily backward, away from the glass?

People overwhelmingly give the same answers. To the first question they say, well, the outline of my face on the mirror would be pretty much the size of my face. As for the second question, that’s obvious: if I move away from the mirror, the size of my image will shrink with each step.

Both answers, it turns out, are wrong. Outline your face on a mirror, and you will find it to be exactly half the size of your real face. Step back as much as you please, and the size of that outlined oval will not change: it will remain half the size of your face (or half the size of whatever part of your body you are looking at), even as the background scene reflected in the mirror steadily changes. Importantly, this half-size rule does not apply to the image of someone else moving about the room. If you sit still by the mirror, and a friend approaches or moves away, the size of the person’s image in the mirror will grow or shrink as our innate sense says it should.

What is it about our reflected self that it plays by such counterintuitive rules? The important point is that no matter how close or far we are from the looking glass, the mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and our projected selves in the virtual world inside the mirror, and so the captured image in the mirror is half our true size.

Rebecca Lawson, who collaborates with Dr. Bertamini at the University of Liverpool, suggests imagining that you had an identical twin, that you were both six feet tall and that you were standing in a room with a movable partition between you. How tall would a window in the partition have to be to allow you to see all six feet of your twin?

The window needs to allow light from the top of your twin’s head and from the bottom of your twin’s feet to reach you, Dr. Lawson said. These two light sources start six feet apart and converge at your eye. If the partition is close to your twin, the upper and lower light points have just begun to converge, so the opening has to be nearly six feet tall to allow you a full-body view. If the partition is close to you, the light has nearly finished converging, so the window can be quite small. If the partition were halfway between you and your twin, the aperture would have to be — three feet tall. Optically, a mirror is similar, Dr. Lawson said, “except that instead of lighting coming from your twin directly through a window, you see yourself in the mirror with light from your head and your feet being reflected off the mirror into your eye.”

This is one partition whose position we cannot change. When we gaze into a mirror, we are all of us Narcissus, tethered eternally to our doppelgänger on the other side.

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