Is Seeing Believing?

I am sure you've seen it by now... the multiple photos of Pope Francis looking seriously non-plussed standing beside a grinning President Trump... perhaps juxtaposed with photos of Francis laughing with Barack Obama... I immediately laughed... but I didn't see it as particularly insightful... Most were posted by friends within my virtual bubble who (like me) would not be the current President's greatest fans, and as such the photo told more about them (and me) than it really says about any of the people in the picture... And in most cases where those photos appeared on social media you didn't have to scroll too far down the comments before someone (not necessarily a Trump fan) countered the initial photo with another one, either with the two men smiling, as above, or another one of the Pope looking grim faced beside the former President...
Photos these days are fairly crude weapons in world of political and social warfare, be it the current Pope/Trump ones or the photos of Theresa May or Ed Milliband having awkward encounters with the food of choice of ordinary punters...  The ability to select one digital image out of thousands taken or even digitally manipulate a single image means that they are perfect for pushing "fake news".
At best photos capture a moment in time, and only offer the slightest hint at what is going on behind the smiles or scowls.
I am known by many for being more than a little grumpy, yet people often remark about the fact that I laugh loudly (one person said that was one of the things that out them off me... well I can think of worse things to be disliked for)... But I am not two different people. The loud laugh and the scowling countenance are both mine at different times and occasionally those times are not very far apart...
Because we human beings are complex beasts...  We all go through a whole gamut of emotions in one day and only some of them make it onto our faces... 
A few weeks back there was a Dr. Who story about a group of colonists on a new planet whose every emotion was monitored by an artificially created lifeforms, with each emotion being registered as an emoticon... And to prevent themselves being terminated by these artificial lifeforms they had to constantly project an artificial sense of happiness...
I don't use emoticons much... and I am not good at reading other's emotions, but I do know that 
many, many people project images of themselves that are every bit as false as a photo-shopped glamour shot... And they/we do it for various reasons... We laugh in the midst of sadness.. We smile to cover up hurt... We can project confidence when we are fearful... And nod knowingly when we really don't understand... Maybe that is why some people going through difficult times (the emotional upheaval of teenage years, or the changes in mid-life, or other more specific crises) like the distance and perceived control that social media allows... where what they are feeling can be carefully mediated through emoticons or carefully crafted status updates begging for a thumbs up, or another appropriately chosen emoticon.
But we need to get beyond the presented image, not just take things at face value, in order to find out what is really going on...
Or maybe, as with the carefully chosen photo of the president, pope or whoever, we simply LOL, like and move on...
Shalom

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