When we look into, watch others looking into, or observe anything placed in front of a mirror, or any other reflective surface, we assume that that mirror is showing us an exact representation of ourselves, others, or anything else found in front of it. While we know intellectually that there can never really be a completely faithful mirror image portrayed due to imperfections in the reflective surface, the light source, and other outside factors, what we usually fail to take into account is that our halves don’t match and that we don’t generally perform a complete inspection of our selves or our apparel so that when we look in a mirror we are often taken a little aback by what we see. We also tend not to scrutinize objects or other people closely enough that a mirror image will be close enough to identify them.
We stumble over the matter of perception almost every time we look at and make judgements about a mirror image. We may think we know what we look like, but there have been many times that we’ve glanced in a mirror and wondered who that stranger was standing there; or have looked in a rearview mirror and not been able to judge the distance from or make out what kind of car we see there; or reached for a vegetable in the market and bump our hand against the glass. Unlike looking in a pond or a puddle that we know has ripples and other distortions, we make assumptions about man-made reflections when should look at all reflections with a grain of salt or with admiration for the artistic license taken by these inanimate objects. Wouldn’t honing observational skills help us modify our assumptions?