I got told recently (by someone well-meaning) that I need to smile more. I am sure he thought he was giving me advice I have never received before. But I have been told this before. And not just a few times either.
This bit of advice makes me smile. Because there was a time when, under the impression that not smiling enough was a social disorder of sorts, I did try to make myself smile more. It made me feel like an idiot and it did nothing to change the way people saw me. I suspect it was because people could tell my smile was not genuine.
I eventually stopped (some time around college) and smiled only when I felt like it. But I find, to this day, that those who are naturally inclined to not smile a lot, get called out for making people uncomfortable.
It does not occur to people like the person whose advice prompted me to start typing this note, that smiling when one does not feel like smiling might make some people uncomfortable.
A smile does have some sort of a comforting effect, but a clearly fake smile can be extremely creepy. We all have that one guy or girl in our lives who we wish would wipe that eternal smirk off their face. Frankly, it looks dumb.
Somewhat more importantly, this "smile more" attitude is just one of many ways in which society's anti-introvert bias manifests in everyday life. It sits right alongside "talk more" and "socialise" and "take initiative" (meaning say words even when you have nothing to add to what has already been said by everyone at the meeting).
And perhaps the most curious thing about my interaction with this person was that I actually was smiling. It did not seem to be enough though.