“You look better in person than you do in your blog picture,” said a former high school student of mine from 40 years ago. He was in town for a class reunion and looked me up. His remark I took to be gracious rather than true. The blog picture is me at 72. At 82, I’ve seen enough change to wonder if I should sit for a new one.
If anyone is getting younger, it’s some of my Facebook friends. And more glamorous. Their images emerge from circles of light or sparklers or holiday wreaths, looking as though they’ve spent the last month on the beach in Hawaii.
Until recently, I knew nothing about Snapchat or Instagram, so it would follow, I knew nothing about filters. With them, I understand, people can edit their features to resemble Angelina Jolie, both painlessly and without the loss of a single drop of blood. I’m tempted to try these devices to see if they can erase my jowls. What a relief that would be. It’s tiring to smile like Kermit the Frog to see them gone.
Of course, nothing is either good or ill but people make it so. These false likenesses are having their effect. People are showing up for plastic surgery, not with pictures of Angelina Jolie as a guide, but with altered images of themselves. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I must be honest. Too many young people in these altered states resemble Tim Burton’s big-eyed corpse bride. (“Snapchat Dysmorphia,” Wired, Nov. 2018 pg.22.)
No doubt plastic surgeons are happy about the remodels, and I hope, after their stitches heal, patients are happy, too. Psychologists, on the other hand, are developing frown lines. What they see in all this image tinkering is a new mental illness: Snapchat Dysmorphia. The label, I bet, doesn’t make Snapchat happy.
At 82, after viewing so many distorted faces, I’ve decided to dispense with vanity. I’m sticking with Kermit the Frog.