By Johannes L. Chua

Illustrations by Ariana Maralit

1590570519986_home bg featured image

There is a new “status symbol” in town and it’s not about the clothes you wear, the car you drive, or the gadgets you use. In this new normal era where virtual meetings become the norm (and a necessity for some) over Zoom or Google Meet, the background scenery of the room where you appear says a lot as it conveys subtle cues on your personality, taste, and preferences

Like any meetings, eyes do not just focus on the agenda at hand. Wandering eyes look for things that will reveal the “true” you as you give a glimpse of what your personal space looks like. That little “window” allows people to arrive at some conclusions which may, or may not, be accurate. But most of the time, the little cues (i.e. a movie poster, a book title, or a painting) can reveal a lot of things, which experts can use to gain insights about you.

“Yes, it’s true. Pundits have even claimed that a well-stocked and elegant bookshelf is like having a tailored suit or a branded handbag pre-Covid era,” says Christian Tenang, a behavioral science expert who is also a human resources consultant. “It is interesting to note how once private (and guarded) spaces have now become public, especially among work colleagues. Some even go the lengths of ‘curating’ their space to project an image (like choosing a profile photo). It is image building.”

Tenang says this major shift was also seen in how celebrities were “demystified” as they sing, dance, or host in the comfort of their homes during the quarantine. Netizens analyzed all the tiny “clues” as seen in the choice of furniture, lighting, curtain, and even wallpaper—they even rated it via a Twitter page called “Room Rater,” which scores the home backgrounds of celebrities, athletes, news reporters, politicians, etc. from one to 10. No one was spared, even Andrē Leon Talley’s space which got a two out of 10 (“another puzzling room”), Morgan Freeman which got a six out of 10 (“comfy chair”), to Yo-yo Ma’s 10 out of 10 (“this room arrangement is playing all the right strings”).

If in case you don’t want to open your home to strangers (and join the fun), just put a large green cloth behind your back. There are tons of virtual backgrounds to download.

So what does your “home background” say about you? If you have at least this one of these elements listed below, it may reveal something about you, according to Tenang. Manila Bulletin Lifestyle has created this fun analysis for you to agree or disagree.

Background with a Full Bookshelf

1590565652179_bookshelf 1-01

You convey that you are a person interested in knowledge. But a “bursting” bookshelf may, however, show signs of tsundoku—you like to acquire books but allow them to pile up without even reading them. Tsk tsk.

Background with Bookshelves with Sparse Books and Knickknacks 

sparse bookshelf 2-01

You are a free spirit but you need some order and a sense of normalcy at home. You are not bound by the stringent rules of society and you likely express what you think. You are likely a fitness buff and now considering biking to do errands.

Background with an Open Window 

1590570497490_open window 3-01

You are a free thinker. You like to imagine and daydream. You wish for pre-Covid days when you can just travel the world and roam the outdoors. You hate Zoom meetings and prefer to do TikTok videos.

Background with Indoor Plants

1590565653866_plants 4-01

You are a responsible homeowner. You also show that you care, not necessarily for the environment, but other living things. There is a possibility that you are a vegetarian and a yogi. You choose gluten-free products.

Background with Movie Poster

1590570503468_movie poster 5-01

You are a creative person but you have a set of eccentricities that may be hard for others to understand. You love nostalgia and secretly dance to songs by Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Background with Framed Paintings

framed paintings 6-01

You have basic art appreciation skills, but you usually mix the names of painters and their works. Nevertheless, you are the go-to person for any design dilemma, whether choosing the right cake or the choice of Internet supplier. You rely on gut instinct.

Background of Framed Personal or Family Photos

1590570507424_personal or family pics 7-01

You “imprint” your personality in every space you occupy—even people around you, which is “too much” especially during the quarantine. You plan the meals, the tasks, the laundry sked, etc. But everyone loves you nevertheless as you can create variations of dalgona coffee and sugar-free Mango Graham cake.

Background with Bare Wall (and Dim Lighting)

1590570483536_bare wall dim lights 8-01

Mystery. Suspense. You don’t want to reveal who you truly are. You hold a glass of red wine (or watered-down vodka) or a cup of chamomile tea while thinking how people are missing so much fun—if they just only know the real you. You long for the dim atmosphere of a theater or moviehouse.

Background with Kitchen Area or Kitchen Top 

1590570487860_kitchen area 9-01

You are the list-type of person. You have a list for everything, including all the things that are needed to be done once the quarantine is lifted. You love to bake, but baking doesn’t love you (as shown in the burnt macaroons). You are likely a fan of K-drama (you also have a list of favorite Korean actors and actresses).

Background with Bed or Sofa with Throwpillows 

bed 10-01

You are comfortable with your skin and who you are! You love to give advice, but ironically, you detest receiving one (they don’t usually work, you say). You project an image of calm but on some nights, you have been binging on ice cream. You miss the spa.

Background with Trophies or Medals

1590570515115_trophies or medals 11-01

Your opinion matters. And usually, it is the only one that matters. You are sometimes passive-aggressive, yet talks of income-generating ventures excite you. You already scheduled the June Zoom meetings with your “downlines.”

Background with Lamp with Shade or Lighting Fixtures

1590570493455_lamp 12-01

Admit it or not, you miss the social events of the past months. You feel “paranoid” exchanging gossip over Zoom meetings as you feel it is recorded and can be hacked. You hate the video lag and overlapping voices. You have already scheduled the first inuman after the lockdown and promised it will be the event of the year.

Background with Closed Curtain

closed curtains 13-01

You have the ability to have a resting bitch face even when it is chaotic during the virtual meeting. While everyone was talking over one another, you are playing the 6,000th level of Candy Crush. Everyone thinks you are weird, but you don’t care. Your PayPal account is full of US dollars from your game tutorial videos.

Any Background Resembling an Office (like a Bare White Wall)

white wall 14-01-01

You are the party pooper but everyone relies on you for the latest updates on salaries, vacation leaves, retrenchment, and new normal adjustments. You are a level-headed person, best exemplified when everyone was going mad and confused during the first season of the quarantine. You already stocked up on face masks even before Taal erupted.

Source: Manila Bulletin (