What if AR filters were one of the most powerful tools invented by humanity to answer the everlasting question of “who am I”.
Today I want to write a short story about something that occurred to me lately while doing research at work on AR filters for Instagram.
I was wandering around the internet looking for interesting examples of this new technological tool, but the more I searched the more I got the feeling of falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit’s hole. Until I finally understood that what is merely described as a gadget for teenagers in lack of real-life excitements is in fact one of the most powerful tools invented by humanity to answer the everlasting question of “who am I”.
They make us reflect on who we are, who we want to be, how we see ourselves, they are exactly the same exercise as painters or photographers have always been practising in the form of auto-portrait. In fact, AR filters are 21st century’s autoportrait, nothing less.
What I was looking at was far more interesting and deep than I had ever expected. In fact, I totally got into it, I started testing those filters, I started looking at myself, I started feeling what one can feel when exposed to another version of himself, a technological self, a cyberpunk self, a future self, a cuter self, a shinier self, a funnier self. Try it, definitely. These transformations that happen on the surface of our skin, they resonate profoundly in our souls and touch the deepest parts of who we are. They make us reflect on our identity, who we want to be, how we see ourselves, they are exactly the same exercise as painters and photographers have always been practising in the form of auto-portrait. In fact, AR filters are 21st century’s autoportrait, nothing less.
There is no higher purpose for mankind as to continue searching for who we are, what we are here for, who put us here. Because this gives us humility and keeps us fragile. While looking for an answer we will never have we stay human, we stay humble.
I’m a millennial, I have grown with tools that are now part of antiquity. I have used VHS cameras and polaroids to try to capture the essence of who I was. But moreover, I’m a writer, so I have always created written auto-portraits. My introspection has been conducted through the power of reading and writing. But whatever the medium, what’s important is introspection. Know thyself. It has saved me. No one has the perfect sauce, no one can find the perfect words to show you exactly how you should proceed to find your true self, and avoid falling into the numerous traps that self-reflection imposes to the lonely wanderer. One can only warn and educate, and try to give the younger generations the best possible conceptual tools to avoid them going too deep into their psyche, without them being prepared for the amount of strangeness and violence they will find there. No one has the answer to how introspection should be made, and where it will lead you. But one thing is for sure : it will lead you somewhere. As there is no higher purpose for mankind than to continue searching for who we are, what we are here for, who put us here. Because this gives us humility and keeps us fragile. While looking for an answer we will never have we stay human, we stay humble.
AR filters are a unique and powerful tool in this quest for your inner and most profound self. Remember to surround yourself with loving people, remember that when plunging into introspection the only thing you have to remember is that you are beautiful and unique. I told you no one could provide you with a map or recipe of how to find yourself, because it is yourself you are looking for, and you are a perfect exception. But one thing I can tell you is that on the way down to the roots of your psyche you might start to understand one of the most ancient and powerful statements that philosophy has ever made : ideas such as beauty, goodness, love, happiness are not to be compared with physical and scarce resources. That is, they are not to be mistaken with things that are limited like money, or houses, properties, vehicles, food, materials, clothes. They are infinite. That means you can take as much as you want from those infinite resources, and you will never be stealing anyone their share of these substances. The more happiness you find, the more you can give, and that produces more love, and joy, and happiness in return. As simple as it seems, it took me almost fifteen years of deep introspection to understand why on earth Plato would always repeat that ideas were of an infinite nature. Until it finally struck me.
My successes are also the success of others around me, my happiness shines and helps others being happier, my easiness into the realms of knowledge and intelligence finally serves other through the things I’m able to share and give.
As a child, being talented at school, I was raised into thinking that my easiness, my fluidity into any subject, was causing the failure of my classmates. Teacher, not knowing the power of the words they were using used to tell me “it’s easy for you, but not for the others. Give them space, let them participate”. I know it’s not directly linked to what I was saying about scarcity thinking in terms of love, or joy, or happiness. But still, it’s the same thought pattern, and what they did with my brain was let it think that each time I answered a question, I proposed a solution, I won a classroom competition, I was taking it from others, depriving them of something. And that is a poor thought pattern. As, in fact, my successes are also the success of others around me, my happiness shines and helps others being happier, my easiness into the realms of knowledge and intelligence finally serves other through the things I’m able to share and give. For ideas, that are translated into information, are for anyone to take, and as philosophy used to put it, or religion, or any well inspired spiritual movement : love, joy, beauty, happiness, justice, knowledge, are infinite, and what a single person takes for himself doesn’t deprive others, it maximizes the possibility that others will catch the signal, and move towards a healthier and more beautiful self.
That, I learned through introspection, and I’m very happy that new generations, with the tools they invented, are continuing the path started long ago by our human ancestors into discovering who we are and what we are here for.