Insights · January 2nd, 2008

I noticed a news item the other day about the TSA having trained special personnel to wander airports and ask travelers innocuous questions, and then to watch their face expressions when they respond. Questions like, “where are you going,” or “going on a vacation?” The TSA believes they can train observers to notice “micro face expressions.” If your face expression is suspicious you will be taken aside for extra security screening or questioning.

Even though in an earlier career I taught courses in nonverbal communication, I found this newest security measure worrying.

And, today a Daily Kos blogger noted the connection to Orwell’s 1984 – the idea of there being “facecrimes.” He quotes from the book…Part 1, Chapter 5:

“He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself—anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

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Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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