#FaceAppChallenge

The other night someone I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a while at an engagement party. He walked over with a wide smile and offered one of those superficial compliments that make you feel good, even though you know it’s not true. “Wow, you really look good, you don’t have one grey hair!”.

My kids disagree. They’re on a mission to precipitate my midlife crisis. Just about every week, they comment on my emerging slivers of silver. The mirror has also started to conspire with them, as each morning it thrusts new “character lines” onto my face.

Twenty years ago, my wife and I started our community, Chabad of Strathavon. We were young then (really young, when I think of it). We saw a bright future, a burgeoining community and growing family ahead. We did not pause to imagine what we’d look like in 2019. Nobody suggested we should.

Twenty years later, in 2019, it’s all the rage to see what you will probably look like 20 years from now. FaceApp has taken society by storm. It allows you to snap a shot of your pearly whites and the app will morph you into a toothless old hag. Or, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that it predicts that you’ll still have hair and a smile.

This “senior me” fad has gone viral. Millions — including top celebs — are posting their 20-year-hence selves all over social media as part of the #FaceAppChallenge.

I get it. It’s a gas to see what you (or better yet, your family and friends) will look like in a a couple of decades down the line.

But, no app can tell you how you’ll really look. An algorithm can predict how your face will evolve, but that static 2D portrait won’t be you. FaceApp appeals to a society intoxicated with appearance, who spend $42 billion a year on anti-ageing products. Trendy people wish to stay trendy- all the way past their retirement.

FaceApp tells you how we will appear in 20 years from now, but it would be more useful to glimpse who we will be in 2039. Not the profile pic; the real, 4D version.

What will we look like in 20 years’ time? Will we squint at handheld devices and mumble that we can’t make out the words? Or will we gaze into Jewish tomes and feel stimulated by wisdom? Will we vex at the markets, inane politicians and slow internet, or revel in sunshine and the nachas of a grandchild on our lap? Will we mope on a recliner or smile and add light to someone’s life?

There’s no app for that.

I guess we have to revert to the old fashioned method of “stop and think” — about what really matters. Our sages define a wise person as someone who can see what today’s choices will produce in years to come. The values, not the gadgetry, we invest in now will determine who will we be then.

About the Author
Rabbi Shishler together with his wife, Naomi and their eight children, runs Chabad of Strathavon in Sandton, South Africa. Rabbi Shishler is a popular teacher who regularly lectures around the globe. he hosts a weekly radio show in South Africa and is the rabbi of Facebook's largest Ask the Rabbi group.
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