I Promise I’m Paying Attention — I Just Have Resting Bored Face
The gendered phenomenon that’s putting your Zoom meetings to the test
No really, I promise. I’m listening.
I know I look like I’m staring into middle distance, actively disassociating from your every word. And, okay, it probably looks uncannily as though I just rolled my eyes at you. Slowly. With a degree of awe-inspiring corneal articulation.
It isn’t what it seems.
This meeting is fascinating; I just have Resting Bored Face
By now, most of us are familiar with the concept of “Resting Bitch Face” — what the writer Corinne Purtill describes, in Forge, as “a catchall term for the unsmiling expression some people wear when they’re not thinking about communicating with their face.” It’s also, as Purtill points out, an idea that’s inherently sexist: “That it includes the gendered expletive ‘bitch’ tells us whose faces we’re policing this way,” she writes. These days, with our face-to-face interactions largely modulated through the imperfect technologies of laptop and phone cameras and our devices’ two-dimensional screens, another, similarly gendered phenomenon is primed to edge its way into our awareness: “Resting Bored Face.”
Resting Bored Face is exactly what it sounds like: a facial expression that beholders register as boredom. It’s contextual, too — if you’re noticing it, it’s likely that you’re expecting the face-maker’s attention.
Unlike the other RBF, this occurrence hasn’t made its way into the annals of Urban Dictionary just yet, but the concept may be familiar to some who spend far too much time in certain corners of the social web. You know it if you’ve seen it. And, whether a lifelong affliction or circumstantially ascribed, you likely know it if you have one.
On Twitter, for example, the term appears intermittently — usually in the form of a tweeter’s wry self-diagnosis, but occasionally as an observation of another person’s presumed facial predicament. In more than one instance, Resting Bored Face is attributed to the pop star Dua Lipa. Country singer Kacey Musgraves has also been put forward as a potential sufferer. And in a 2019 post on…