August 27, 2018
Toast just the right shade of brown and crispness, a GPS that makes driving less like rolling the dice, and my smartphone hooked up to a bluetooth speaker to entertain me wherever I am in the house—the reward? Convenience and predictable results —the benefits that technologies usually seek to offer.
People who develop new technologies probably start out thinking their creation will improve our lot in life. After all, these people can't predict the myriad of ways we humans will subvert their products to our own personal, egocentric needs.
But when tech goes bad, it can go really bad, especially when it comes to social media.
In case you've been living in a hut off the grid, Instagram is a photo and video sharing app, while Snapshat is a messaging app that lets users share photos and videos. That’s clear, huh?
We can’t get enough of sharing, you see. We’re such a generous bunch of givers. We want to give you as much as you can stomach until you unfollow or block us.
But now these apps are no longer just a way to share what cute thing our dog did today, or the mess our cat made in our lingerie drawer, or the dinner our toddler wore last evening. And people, that is, people who have any capacity left to be alarmed and shocked, ought to be concerned about what these apps can offer.
These apps can change reality! Because reality is bad. It’s too natural.
We know we have pores the size of lunar craters. The folds in our foreheads could support new life forms.
And there’s no hiding the fact that our cheekbones have dropped and are hiding somewhere around our jaw lines.
But wait. Rethink that no hiding part. Because, thanks to technology, we can use Snapchat and Instagram filters to obscure every defect we grimace at when we look in the mirror. These filters blur, soften, and cast gentle concealing tints over our time-and-too-much-partying-ravaged faces. Click on a filter and a morning mist or a translucent fog rolls in.
Never mind that it looks like we’re hiding behind plastic wrap or parchment paper. Look followers, no wrinkles!
Somewhere along the way, we lost our way. And our senses. What the hell happened to the women’s movement? You remember—that revolution that empowered women to accept themselves as the valuable, worthwhile creatures we are.
The women’s movement is now hiding behind app filters, layers of cosmetics, and plastic surgery.
Don’t like your eyebrows? No worries. With a little effort, yours can be far more enthusiastic. Take a look at these brows! And I’m seeing far too many oversized lashes that just make me want to swat at them.
Using makeup to contour your face has been around for ages, perfected by drag queens, imitated by Kim Kardashian, but now everyone wants the look, even though it takes almost an hour to accomplish.
But sooner or later, someone is going to take it too far.
We’ve so "perfected" nature that now we can look like a mannequin, or, at least like Kim Kardashian. (Ugh. I've used her name twice in this post.)
Unfortunately, we're now experiencing a more serious trend brought about by these social media filters. These apps are driving millenials to seek out plastic surgery to more closely match what the filters portray to their audience. And a good portion of these millennials are female.
I don’t see anything wrong with enhancing Nature's gifts. I look at wildflowers in my garden and along my hikes and rather than take a photo of them, I create wildflower patterns that don’t mirror what I saw. It's an artistic expression of my love of nature.
And I don’t see a problem with softening a few lines and keeping wrinkles at bay—minor cosmetic fixes. But, snap out of it! Let's not get crazy.
I think Nature is there, in the garden, in the landscape and on our faces, to remind us of reality. Because, we’re certainly not getting much of it by watching and listening to a lot of entertainment masquerading as news these days.
I look forward to the day when we no longer let social media transform who we are and what we look like. If we don't claim some control over these apps, we won't have the right to complain when robots rule the world.
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