What we can learn from FaceApp's #OldAge challenge


“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

A couple of weeks ago, a funny thing happened. I logged onto social media one morning to find many of my friends, family, and even celebrities, had all aged decades. My feeds were filled with familiar faces with greyer hair and pronounced wrinkles. And no doubt you recognized this strange phenomenon as well—maybe you even put 30 years onto your own portraits!

The viral craze of the old-age filter on FaceApp brings up some interesting questions: questions about perceived self-image, insecurity, and even concerns about privacy. Nonetheless, there are some interesting issues that the popular trend has brought to the surface about ourselves.

From age to age

In a culture preoccupied with youth, we’re strongly interested in getting old.

There’s something strangely fascinating about seeing our friends, family members, colleagues, coworkers, and even ourselves, all of a sudden have the appearance of age. We live in a time where physical beauty is seemingly synonymous with youth. We long for decades passed; we chase smoother skin, youthful physical features, and perceived vitality, all concepts placed on a pedestal by our culture. 

Alphaville’s hit song Forever Young may be more than 30 years old, but its chorus of “Forever young, I want to be forever young” is, dare I say, a timeless mantra—repeated, for example, in Guards’ 2013 song Silver Lining: “I wanna live forever, I don’t care”.

In light of this, the inevitability of aging will always be a clear and present reality. Maybe this is why nostalgia creeps into the popular culture more and more. The notoriety of 90s vintage, the 80s setting of Stranger Things, watching reruns of Saturday morning cartoons long cancelled. Even Disney continues to make live-action versions of the animated features I remember watching in theatres as a kid thus playing on my own childhood angst. All of this is catering to our sense of sentimentality towards the past.

Keep reading…