With the rise of social media and an increased reliance on the internet to create and maintain relationships, internet users are finding it beneficial, if not flat-out critical, to create a whole online persona, complete with the perfect profile and perfect profile picture.
In the world of social media, photos play a major role by connecting the opinions and information we send to the internet with a real flesh-and-blood person. It used to be easy to be brave online and not take any tangible responsibility for what you did and said, but people are starting to realize that if they want to be taken seriously, then they need to show a real person is behind the voice. Including photos of yourself is an important way to add integrity to your online persona. You’re showing people what you look like in real life; meaning someone who reads what you write on the web might actually come over and say hi to you in waking life!
It makes sense to try and put your best foot forward when stepping into the social media scene, especially with online pictures and profiles making more and more first impressions for us. Our profiles and avatars are like little familiars… ephemeral digital emissaries that we send out into the virtual forest in the hopes of finding the people and things we are looking for. They are our eyes, ears, and personal proponents.
What I’m rambling toward is that importance-wise, how we look online is closing the gap on how we look in real life. Amazingly, I am not the first person to reach this mini-epiphany… enter our old friends self-consciousness and vanity. People have been “improving” their digital likenesses for some time now, as we are already armed with a mighty arsenal of photo editing software. But this is such a bother. Isn’t there a better, faster, easier way? I mean, c’mon. It’s practically 2009.
The answer is yes (a heavy sigh of relief fills the room). Professor Dani Lischinksi and his team of Israeli scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have developed new software that, using a carefully tested and proven understanding of facial proportion, greatly improves the attractiveness of your face without damaging your defining features or recognizability. Ever seen a picture of yourself that was a little too good? You’re still you, you just look a tiny bit better than the real-life you. That’s what this software does, and it does it reliably, or so they say.
Oh, the ethical implications! Is this deceptive? Is it self-indulgent? If there was an “optimize portrait” button on facebook, would a lot of people use it? The answer to all three questions is: probably.
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