The Big Mood: FaceApp

One week, one mood: Moya Lothian-Mclean’s deep-dive into the feel of the week.

We don’t han­dle age­ing well in the UK. Get­ting old­er here denotes one step clos­er to death; it is a thing to be feared. As such we treat the elder­ly in Britain with a bizarre mix of mys­ti­cal rev­er­ence (see: the rea­son your grandad can get away with call­ing cousin Tom’s Jamaican girl­friend coloured’) and guilty dis­dain. We, the young and spright­ly, sim­ply can­not believe that any­one would allow them­selves to suc­cumb to the inex­orable march of time, let their sup­ple flesh with­er and sag, lose their grip on their wits. But we also know it’s absolute­ly going to hap­pen to us, soon­er rather than lat­er. This is why we put old peo­ple in homes; out of sight, out of mind.


So the explo­sion of FaceApp, a nov­el­ty age­ing’ app, comes as a bit of a sur­prise. Sure, we’ve dab­bled in fad facial­ly-alter­ing apps before; remem­ber the gen­der swap craze of, oh, four months ago? Yet the sud­den del­uge of pre­ma­ture­ly aged self­ies that have hit every social feed going, are a lit­tle more star­tling. This is per­haps because the tech has improved since FaceApp first mus­cled its way into the col­lec­tive con­scious­ness in 2017; now the AI pow­er­ing pro­duces ter­ri­fy­ing­ly accu­rate-seem­ing results. Look! It real­ly is you, old! Lol.

I per­son­al­ly am bored by this app, bored by all these placid dopes who are enter­tained by the notion of a few wrin­kles lin­ing their gorm­less lit­tle faces. But that’s because I do not fear age­ing – age­ing will sim­ply ren­der me more powerful.

How­ev­er, I can under­stand that for the rest of you, play­ing around with FaceApp is both repul­sive and deeply entic­ing, like click­ing onto the step-par­en­t/step-child cat­e­gories on Porn­hub. It’s close enough to a prop­er social taboo (death, which we’re ter­ri­ble at) to feel trans­gres­sive. Yet at the same time, it’s impos­si­ble to look away (or – just to squeeze every last drop of juice out of this metaphor – switch off that Hitachi wand). 

And per­haps there is anoth­er ele­ment at play; the per­va­sive, gen­er­al feel­ing that we real­ly are liv­ing in end times, that this is final­ly it. With cli­mate change and the col­lapse of democ­ra­cy on our doorstep; with the Pres­i­dent of the biggest West­ern pow­er in the world say­ing Fuck it, mask off’ and try­ing to get every minor­i­ty mur­dered, it seems the last tee­ter­ing pil­lars of civil­i­ty have final­ly col­lapsed. We’re not going to grow old, are we? It’s all going to be over quite soon, prob­a­bly with­in the next 20 years. May as well upload a quick self­ie to that weird Russ­ian app that wants the rights to sell your likeness​, before you go storm­ing Area 51. There, that’s you at 60, an age you’re unlike­ly to see! The world is fucked! Lol.

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