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The Antelope

The Antelope

New epidemic: face blindness surfaces at UNK

CASSIE BROWN / ANTELOPE STAFF Victims of face blindness fail to recognize others, creating situations of confusion.

Studies show the United States has seen a new epidemic come to light. Face blindness has been affecting individuals forever, but there has been an rise in cases.

Face blindness can be defined as an individual’s inability to recognize other individuals. With no known cause, face blindness has wreaked havoc on the lives of many who are forced to live in a constant state of awkwardness brought on by the disease. 

The implementation of masks has not made the lives of those suffering from the disease any easier.

“Now I really can’t tell who anyone is,” said Jane Doe, a UNK super senior majoring in underwater basket weaving. “For all I know, I’m just having conversations with random people.”

There are three levels of face blindness. In its developing stage, face blindness is usually dismissed as lapses of memory or off-days. The moderate stage comes with more inability to recognize others, embarrassment, and a multitude of awkward situations. The disease is often not diagnosed until the final stage in which recovery is rare. In the final stage, victims only see a blurry image rather than a face at all. 

Studies show that UNK students are among the most at risk for the disease. The face blind cannot go it alone; they need the support of others to realize there is a problem and to take the necessary steps to correct that problem. The first step others can take to help potentially face blind friends is to watch for the common symptoms of the disease. 

Some signs to keep in mind are: the lack of a returned wave or other gestures of greeting, the phrases “who are you?” or “have we met?” when not appropriate, failure to recognize movie characters resulting in misunderstandings in the plotline and a general look of confusion at the beginning of a conversation.

Individuals with face blindness are regularly at the center of awkward interactions.

“I once approached a man at a volleyball game, thinking that he knew me and wanted to shake my hand,” Jane Doe said. “As I began to shake his hand, the confused look on his face told me I had goofed yet again. That is when I began to seek treatment.”

“I once got caught in a conversation with an aunt I forgot I had,” said John Doe, a UNK super-duper senior majoring in skydiving. “I put two and two together about halfway through the talk and was so proud I realized who she was.”

There are some available treatment options for face blindness including name tags, pretending to know those who initiate a conversation, greeting every individual in sight or resorting to addressing people as “sport,” “bud” or just “you.” Another way to cope is by identifying individuals in other ways such as their voice, the way they walk, or memorizing what they are wearing for the day, though caution must be taken not to come off as a stalker. 

Some seek to reverse the effects of face blindness, while others have embraced the disease.

“It becomes fun after a while,” John Doe said. “Now, I think of every interaction as a mystery, a case to solve before the suspect flees. I’m just happy someone wants to talk to me.”

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