What does your smile say about you?
Aristotle once said, "Beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of introduction".
This is still very true today. Nancy Etcoff so pointedly reminds us in her chapter "Beauty as Bait" of her book "Survival of the Prettiest" how even children gravitate towards beauty and taunt aesthetic shortcomings of others. Surprisingly, a baby knows beauty when he or she sees it. Alan Slater of Exeter University showed pictures rated by adults as being more or less attractive to babies only two-and-a-half days old and found that they stared longer at faces which adults considered more beautiful.
How does this apply to our new "Town Square", our world of social media? One might rephrase Aristotle's wisdom and state,
"A genuine smile in your Profile Image is a greater recommendation than any other introduction about yourself on social media."
We live in an age where people meet more often in a virtual world of profile pictures and resumés than in real life. While this is regrettable, it has been the inevitable consequence of the convenience of "socially" engaging on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter, or whatever your favorite platform may be. Even when sitting in a train or at an airport, the preferred mode of social engagement appears to be the smart phone or the laptop, not a conversation with the person who sits right next to you.
Are smiles still important? You bet they are. As much as we engage in written conversations on the internet, we still like to see a genuine picture of the other person's profile. And if that person smiles, we respond in a certain way.
We are connected through our smiles more than we may be aware of. A smile is very contagious and if someone smiles at us, most likely we smile back. Dr. Niedenthal and her colleagues discovered that a smile-in-response matches the brain activity experienced by the original smiler. When someone sees his companion smile, he won't be able to help but smile as well, and it appears that the same regions of his brain light up inducing the same emotions.
Yes, there are different kinds of smiles, such as the ones from pure pleasure, the social ones for greeting someone, or the smiles of embarrassment. The smiles we display in those situations differ both neurologically and anatomically from the ones we can't help showing when we're embarrassed. How do we project our true self into the world of social media? The answer is simple. Just show yourself as you appear among friends in a real social gathering. Be "friend"-ly. Nobody wants to talk to a grump. While it may be an interesting statement of attitude towards life, a serious pose is not the engager we might hope for.
Do healthy-looking teeth help? Of course. It demonstrates self-respect, confidence, and respect for others. Deteriorated teeth may signal a certain lack of personal care and a careless attitude towards others. Fortunately, we have come a long way, and cosmetic dentistry offers a variety of long-lasting and safe solutions to enhance one's image.