Morning Face Time
September 13, 2017 9:14 PM   Subscribe

A long time ago I came across an idea, from the now-deceased blogger Seth Roberts, that seeing faces in the morning is beneficial for sleep & mood. I've investigated it enough, on and off, to think there might be something to it. Now I want to properly test it for myself. Help me find some good sources of faces.

Actually talking to people in the morning would be ideal, but isn't always possible given the way my life is arranged. I live with housemates, a couple of whom I like to talk to, but our mornings don't usually overlap, and anyway they tend to be up and out quickly in the morning. I'd love some kind of breakfast club but I'm not sure how to make that happen. I also chat with coworkers for a bit over food & coffee when I get to work, so that does some of this already. And, I'm trying to move to a more communal living situation, where breakfast may be more doable.

For now, I want to experiment with pictures or videos. I'm not sure how much it matters whether the faces are moving. I think I'd want them to be large, and mostly looking into the camera (to best mimic conversation). I'm thinking maybe ~20 minutes, to start with.

There's the added complication that I like my mornings to be calm, a time to collect myself before the world crashes in. So the morning news, which would otherwise be ideal, is disqualified. But, videos of people explaining things I'm interested in might work? (like science, math, history, current events) if they were mostly headshots looking into the camera.

A different direction would be less content-oriented, and more artistic or meditative: watching muted films or TV shows that are mostly headshots (which ones are like this?); gazing on pictures of loved ones; looking at portrait photography (I've done this some with tumblr, but found the experience a bit strange and voyeuristic).

Happy to get suggestions, thoughts on the general concept, or other people's experiences.
posted by gold-in-green to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I think Roberts recommended new shows, but that might not help with your calm these days (maybe if you kept it on mute).

For film, maybe something like 12 Angry Men? Glengarry Glen Ross A lot of plays that have been made into films will feature a lot of close ups.
posted by kindall at 10:25 PM on September 13, 2017

Do you have enough time to spend an hour at your local coffeeshop?

If not, you might like youtubers who do daily vlogs -- they are usually talking directly into the camera, sharing things about their lives, and their style is usually like a conversation with a friend. Check out the channels you like and see if any of them have a separate blog channel, lots of them do.
posted by ananci at 10:26 PM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Makeup videos might be something to try, even if you're not interested in makeup. They show faces looking at a camera undergoing a creative transformation. Some are totally silent, some are chatty. Also people do special effects makeup videos if you prefer that.
posted by acidic at 11:47 PM on September 13, 2017

A Coursera course is a lot like this.
posted by amtho at 2:00 AM on September 14, 2017

i used to have a smiling frog plantpot (the imported from bangladesh fairtrade terracotta type, it was tasteful, honest) and it used to instantly make me happier seeing it and i realised finally that i was smiling back at it automatically, but my parents didn't like it so it went
posted by maiamaia at 4:14 AM on September 14, 2017

ASMR videos are on the more bizarre (maybe artistic) side, but the search term will get you a wealth of extended verrrry calm headshots looking directly into the camera.
posted by cogitron at 4:21 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seth's blog is still on-line. Here's a page about his "morning faces" self-experimentation. About half-way down the page, he lists some good sources for viewing faces.

Incidentally, I attended Seth's memorial event in Berkeley after he died. I sat next to this man, who told me in no uncertain terms that he credits the morning faces program with restoring his mental health after he developed severe bipolar disorder. As of the time I spoke to him, he was still doing it every morning (this was years after his initial illness).

I've been tempted to try it myself, but I fear I don't have the self-discipline required to do it every morning.
posted by alex1965 at 4:49 AM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sketch from this website:
posted by coevals at 6:39 AM on September 14, 2017 [3 favorites]

Cooking shows? Maybe not a whole lot of close-ups on faces but definitely pretty relaxed and chatty compared to the news.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:09 AM on September 14, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks, lots of good ideas so far!

I'm finding it pretty pleasant to watch foreign-language vlogs -- seems like it would be nice aid in language learning too. I don't normally follow youtubers though so I don't really know how to find vlogs I'm interested in, other than searching by subject, or seeing if general-internet people I like have vlogs.
posted by gold-in-green at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2017

Rookie magazine's Ask a Grown Woman/Man video series might be a good choice for something like this. People talking right into the camera, and it's way more naturally conversational/low-key than your average vlog but not quite as soporific as ASMR. Here's the full list and here's my favorite, Tig Notaro.

Numberphile might be good too, given your interest in mathematics. It's usually a person talking to camera, but in a different way from the above/typical vlogs. My faves are the ones with Zvezdelina Stankova. It's less constant facetime than the above, but it does have a lot of natural-feeling low-key facetime.

Another thing to consider if you're open to it: makeup and/or hair tutorials. I enjoy them even though I don't wear makeup or put my hair up. Sometimes they're relaxing (again without being as soporific as intentional ASMR) and sometimes they're funny, depending on the personality of the person. Two current faves of mine are Jackie Aina and Glam & Gore.
posted by lampoil at 10:32 AM on September 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

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