If social media has taught us anything, it’s that no matter where we are or what we’re doing, we can always make the world a better place by taking and distributing a hastily composed self-portrait.
Standing outside the Louvre in Paris? Hoist that smart phone up and snap a selfie.
Just got out of prison? Freedom selfie!
Riding your bike? Pre-catastrophic injury selfie!
The possibilities are endless, as is the stream of images that flood Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, carefully filtered masterworks of ephemerality. This may not be the Greatest Generation, but it’s fast becoming the We-Think-We-Look-the-Greatest Generation.
And selfies are already having a positive impact on America.
Cases of head lice are reportedly on the rise because so many young people are squishing their heads together to pose for pictures. This is great news — it shows young people still believe in sharing and it stimulates the all-important delousing segment of the U.S. economy.
Also, once we’ve selfied our way to a state of maximum lice transmission, the parasitic insects will likely grow bored and seek out less predictable hosts, like naked mole rats or slightly larger lice. (The delousing industry will continue to boom, as owners of naked mole rats are known to be rather fastidious.)
Of course, this obsession with sharing our expressions with the world does come with a downside: Some people are not that attractive.
Thankfully, the uggos are being proactive and, according to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, getting their faces fixed in droves.
A study by the academy found that “one in three facial plastic surgeons surveyed saw an increase in requests for procedures due to patients being more self-aware of looks in social media.”
From 2012 to 2013, members of the academy saw a 10 percent increase in rhinoplasty, a 7 percent increase in hair transplants and a 6 percent increase in eyelid surgery. (The eyelids, after all, are the windows to the soul.)
In a press release, academy president and face-fixer-in-chief Edward Farrior, said of our social media photo fixation: “These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers, and our patients want to put their best face forward.”
Farrior is obviously a smart man and in no way has a vested interest in letting you know that your current face is not your best face.
But what his organization’s study fails to address are the struggles facing beautiful people. You see, those of us born with naturally attractive facial features enjoy taking selfies, too, but we carry the burden of knowing that at any moment some average-looking person might wander into the background and muck up an otherwise stunning self-portrait.
I have been very public about my struggles with handsomeness. My best-selling memoir “Magnificent: Looking Good, But Feeling Guilty” has helped many attractive people cope with how their own physical good fortune might exacerbate other people’s justifiable feelings of inadequacy.
But the selfie craze has thrust those inadequacies right in the face of fragile beautiful people like me.
So I, and I’m sure others of glamorous-American descent, have turned to plastic surgeons for help in leveling the selfie playing field. It’s a lesser-known procedure called “facial deconstruction surgery,” and it involves the insertion of blemishes, minor neck-fat injections and some nose bending. I’m also considering eliminating the muscles that allow me to smile and having a less attractive person’s head attached to my left shoulder.
Whatever it takes, I’m committed to de-handsoming.
Because if all the good-looking selfie takers become a little more average, and the average selfie takers become a little more good-looking, pretty soon we’ll all look basically the same.
And then, like the lice that will soon grow bored of all our head squishing, perhaps we’ll move on to something less predictable.
Like taking pictures of something other than ourselves.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @RexHuppke.