Doppelgangers: You Have My Face!

August 02, 2018
A doppelganger basically means a lookalike. No, we are not talking about twins here. Imagine sharing a face with someone who isn't even remotely related to you! Strange, right? But  people (total strangers) do share striking facial similarities, and we can't help but browse the internet, thanks to this profound curiosity. We even fantasize about meeting our own doppelgangers! But what actually fuels the mysterious case of doppelgangers? What makes the idea of having a non-biological 'twin' so enticing? Myths, of course. There are instances of doppelgangers being mentioned in ancient literature and folklore, which accumulated over time, and what we have now is a curious mix of traditional accounts, and the scientific investigations devoted to decoding this unique phenomenon.
German root: The German nouns 'doppel', meaning 'double', and 'gänger', meaning 'walker' is the origin of the word 'doppelganger'. I admit it sounds a little eerie, when we think about another walking, talking and breathing copy of us existing and sharing the same timeline. Just like an apparition.

Doppelgangers and myths: Mythologies are laden with instances about encountering doppelgangers, or just about doppelgangers. But compared to the enthusiasm of the modern world to meet their doubles, the ancient people had little interest to meet them. In Breton, Norman and Cornish folklore, doppelgangers were regarded as the personification of death itself! Considering this theory, I do understand the horror the people must have felt when they heard about doppelgangers. Then came Norse mythology, which took the whole doppelganger brouhaha up a notch, and attributed to them the ability to perform a person's actions in advance. Almost manipulating the future. And according to the Greeks, a doppelganger is supposed to have the same memories and feelings of the person concerned. As if sharing a face was not enough, they share memories too.

Science me this! Leaving the ghost of the past behind, science did take a different approach to doppelgangers. Teghar Lucas, a researcher, and her team from the University of Adelaide conducted painstaking studies, examining the faces of about 4 thousand people, and revealed that there was actually a 1 in 135 chance of bumping into your doppelganger. While it is a widely held notion that we share our face with 6 people, Lucas' study suggests otherwise. Almost disheartening. But then, it must be also noted that her team did not just concentrate in the general similarity between the faces, but concentrated on the minute facial features, which even involved the size of the ears. Going by those rules, it is indeed impossible to find someone with the exact features. But WinrichFreiwald, who studies face perception at Rockefeller University, offers a different view. “There are only so many genes in the world which specify the shape of the face and millions of people, so it’s bound to happen," he says. So maybe there is still hope for you to find your doppelganger, and experience something really weird for once.
Do you look like me? There is actually an online project, which is committed to finding your doppelgangers. Started by three friends, Niamh, Harry and Terence, the project was called TwinStrangers. They each took up the challenge to find their lookalikes within 30 days. That was really odd. But that wasn't the end of the strange project. They actually succeeded in finding their doppelgangers! Niamh actually found her first doppelganger, Karen, within two weeks of posting the challenge on their website. The challenge which had the tagline, 'Do you look like me?', actually went viral on social media, and so did the video of Niamh meeting Karen. Niamh actually managed to find two more doppelgangers, and the women bonded over how similar they looked, and how uncanny the whole phenomenon was. The links to the two videos of Niamh meeting her doppelgangers are given below, do check them out, and well, prepare to be shocked.

Niamh meeting Karen

Niamh meeting Irene

Twinstrangers actually helped a lot of other people as well, as evident from their videos, to find their lookalikes. Keep calm and go about your life; watch videos, upload photos, and waste your time, but don't forget to say 'Hi!' to your doppelganger or take a selfie, if you happen to run into them one day.

Post Written by - Lopamudra

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