A smile is a curve that sets everything straight” – Phyllis Diller.
But it’s not easy to produce a smile on demand. A smile is a response to something, and therefore hard to manufacture. Yet whenever we are faced with a camera these days, we are expected to smile. It’s great if the camera catches us in a moment of pure spontaneous mirth, but rather excruciating if we have to wait for photographer to compose the shot, our smiles tightening into a kind of rictus. Yet in the current selfie culture, smiling for the camera is almost obligatory.
This wasn’t always the case. Mark Twain apparently once said, “A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity, than a silly smile caught and fixed forever.” Perhaps that’s why we still don’t smile for passport photographs. If Facebook is any guide, however, the silly smile is how millions of people will now be remembered.