By Arthur H. Gunther III
A photo of a
dress from a London shop, blue and black, made its viral way around the
Internet last week because some people saw it as white and gold, or
hues that approached blue, gold, etc. It all has to do with how your eye
accepts light exposure. No big deal, except that it was yet another of
those games that you spot more and more on social media sites, some
meant to test your inner psychology. (As in “What car are you like? Take
the test!”) Heck, there was one good way back in anyone’s school days
that is just as psychologically true today, just as relevant in a
light-enough, non-earth-shattering way.
Take the test.
Where did you sit in class? Always near the windows? Close to the door?
The third row? In the middle of any row? The last seat way in the back?
When I was in college, this time on a renewed try while working for a
living, I didn’t have many moments to spare since the combined hours of
traveling, sitting in class, being a newspaper photog, helping run a
household, etc., kept things tight. So, it was easier to choose the same
seat in every class, if I could. I’d get to the first day of class
early and hit the window row half-way back. Much easier to find my place
in any class in a rush. It worked for most of my courses.
high school, often the seat you took on the first day was the one you
had for the term, the teacher making up a seating chart, which might be
amended if you talked to your neighbor. Somehow, the same people were
always in the front row, the back one, the window side, the seat under
the wall clock, the middle row, middle seat. I bet if high school
reunions — elementary ones for that matter — were held in the old
classrooms, some of us would gravitate to our old spots, no matter how
many years have passed since we day-dreamed like me or sat up straight,
hands folded on desk.
Just like the social media site psychology
tests (“What color are you?”) seem to be on the mark, so, too, would
your chosen seat (or the assigned one, if the teacher intervened) reveal
YOU. Day-dreamer near the window? Tired fellow with pre-school-hours
job in the back row? Or the one who didn’t want to be noticed? The
person in the middle row, middle seat, who liked to be kept secure,
surrounded by classmates? The two friends near the back, against the
wall, who could talk without being noticed?
What seats are best for passing notes, flirting, getting out of class fast?
And who disliked it when the teacher had us push the desks to the side
and form a circle of chairs. Did you feel vulnerable? Did you raise your
hand to be noticed? Could the day-dreamer do his (her) thing in a
circle? At least rows of seats added to individuality, or joining the
crowd, or sharing friendship with one or two or three other students in
Finally, what about the teacher? Did he (she) have a
favorite row to glance at, others to stare at, still others to ignore a
Like I said, Psychology 101.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org This essay may be reproduced.