Why do we shudder to watch ourselves on TV?

We recently had a photographer filming in and around our office. The last few weeks have felt like being inside the ‘Big Brother House”! It went from personal interviews with scripted questions almost simulating a diary room session, to the camera man randomly filming you going about your daily duties. This must be what I feels like to be on an episode of “Reality TV”. Kind of.

But what I noticed from this excitement, and really what this post is about, is how confident and social people dislike seeing themselves on screen. I am generally quite shy, therefore I was surprised that even these types of characters, who come across as self-assured, even shy away from recorded viewings of themselves. It made us all highly uncomfortable to see or hear ourselves on TV.

Discomfort comes for 2 reasons:

My inside voice is different to my outside voice

When we speak we receive the sound from the air around us, as well as vibrations conducted via the bones and tissues in our head. Recordings only capture the air-conducted sounds and that is why our perception of how we sound is skewed. It is quite jarring to hear my voice and realise that every time I speak people hear something different to what I do.

Physical perception 

The way I see myself is different to how others see me, and I am reminded of this when I watch myself on TV. We all have expectations of how we carry ourselves, our body language, our facial expressions etc, and when we are watching ourselves back on screen we are (often unwillingly) forced to accept that our impressions of ourselves is not always aligned with the image we have in our heads.

As social beings, we act as if we don’t really care what others think, and generally in most cases we aren’t too concerned with other peoples opinions, but essentially we are creatures that want and need to fit into our social universe. Humans are naturally drawn to making connections and sensing how others perceive us, allowing us to authentically connect and reap the satisfaction of these connections. Psychologically, if the idea I have of “me” is not how I come across, this is bound to place stress on my mental state. A fun experiment would be, to be a fly on the wall so I can get out of my head and truly see how people see me without my own voice (and insecurities) influencing my reality.


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About Kell

I am a Scrum Master, or a Product Owner when the hat needs wearing. Working at a Digital Communications Agency, messing with Social, Mobile and Traditional Media. I love to run but don't get my legs moving often enough. But, hand me a pair of ski's (and some snowy slopes of course) and you won't see me for days! https://kellrodney.wordpress.com/

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