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When I gear up to write a post, I sometimes troll the news feed to see what folks are chatting about.  So I did the same thing this time. After the third or so article I happened upon a post of top photos collected over the past weeks.  I wish I could say the photos depicted images of landscapes or amazing feats of nature.  But they didn’t. They were shot after shot of beautiful celebrities courtesy of US Weekly.

Before you groan, please recognize that I’m not proud of this nor did I intend to even focus my attention here.  But once I opened the post and started flipping through the images, I was hooked.  Time flew and before I knew it, it was a half hour later.

What gives?  Why in the world would I waste minute after minute poring through images of beautiful people in gorgeous outfits.  Well, it is award season so maybe that’s what’s catching our attention.

Nah, it’s more than that.

There is something mesmerizing about images, especially images of beautiful people.  Before we admonish ourselves for admiring these shots, let’s forgive ourselves a bit.  You see we are hardwired to not only focus on visual stimuli, but to focus even more on “beautiful” faces.

As someone who spends hour upon hour trying to figure out why and how we engage with all of our digital paraphernalia, one thing is for sure: we are a highly visual culture now.  In fact, we communicate through our visual sense now more than ever.  Think of all the photos, clips and emoji’s we take, upload, download and share EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Of course our digital gadgets make this easier than ever.  But the real reason we are so visual is that we are hardwired to be so.  Our visual sense is one of the oldest and most nuanced…much older than our ability to decode written and oral language.  Remind yourselves of how how babies first learn — through smell, touch and yes, our eyes. Our digital culture has allowed us to return to that state.

Speaking of babies. There are tons of published evidence on babies’ attraction to beautiful faces.  How do we define beautiful faces?  Of course that’s up for debate and not the focus of this post.  But in the most basic way, we are referring to faces with symmetrical features.  So the fact that we can’t get enough pictures of gorgeous people made even more gorgeous thanks to red carpet styles and make-up is, well, understandable.

I’m not advocating that we waste hours reading US Weekly or poring through shots of people with unattainable gowns and coifs.  All I’m saying is that when we do catch ourselves being pulled towards images of beauty, we can now understand why.  And with that understanding we let ourselves indulge a bit and then walk away.

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