Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Fundamentally: you are nothing. But personally, to you: you are everything. You are everything and nothing at once. You are a face in a crowd.
Look in the mirror, look that face of yours, paw it with your dry, clean fingers. This is the internet, and so I am legally bound to tell you that you are beautiful, that you are a god or goddess, that even if you flout conventional beauty standards that you are attractive in a unique way, that even if you are uggo, you are strong. For some of you this isn't true. We have all been on public transport. We have seen the faces of despair. Listen: not everyone is good looking. Not everyone looks good. It's fine. It's fine. Look again at your face.
Stretch the cheeks, open your mouth. Blink twice. Consider the folds, consider the wrinkles, consider the blemishes and the flaws. Look at the hair sprouting out of it. This is you, this is you, this is your identity. Really get involved with it. This is the essence of you made corporeal and real. This is the truth of all of your ancestors – every dalliance, every marriage, every affair – made genetically flesh in you. You are the sum of all of your parts. You are blood and muscle fibres and skin. You were raised by your parents to look like this. Your face is a visual fingerprint, the one thing that makes you you. Even twins differ slightly at the seams. Every face is a snowflake, every face unique. Your face is what people see and what they judge you on. Everyone sees your face with they eyes they have buried in their own. They see it from different angles to you, in different lights. You think you know your face and then you see it from below in a photograph, on video, and go: is that me, is that really me? Is that what I look like, to people? You go: good lord, I am a monster.
But we are bored of our faces, our glorious faces, we are offering them up to the Silicon Valley gods and saying: swap this awful face with another one. We are downloading apps that make us look like dogs, like snowmen, like Leonardo DiCaprio. We are eschewing our identities for a 20-like photo for Instagram. We are all obsessed with MSQRD.
What I am saying is there is a new app, called MSQRD. Here is what it can do to you.
It is basically like the Snapchat face swap filter but a separate app. It can make you look like Donald Trump.
It can also make you flip out a bit and lose sight of the already fractured disconnect we all have between our faces (as discussed: the only concrete marker of self-identity we have left) and our consciousness. Who am I anymore if I look like Barack Obama? Who am I anymore if I am trapped in a silent, invisible disco?
Will you be happy if a robot distorts you to look like Snoop Dogg? I can tell you it will not.
What if you win an Oscar, will you be happy then? You won't.
Will reverting back to a chimp-like state, albeit temporarily, make you comfortable and joyful in your taut human skin? It won't.
I am a cheetah who is also a drag queen. I do not know where I end and drag cheetah begins. When did Joel Golby die and become consumed by the popular new free app 'MSQRD'? When did Joel Golby die and when did drag cheetah take his place? Will I ever get the old me back? When I put this app down, and I am left with my natural, underwhelming face: will I ever be the same? Or is the person I'll go back to a fracture, a walking schism, a wounded superego wrapped in a fragile shell?
This is my friend and NOISEY editor Joe Zadeh, and this is the closest we have been in weeks, in months, crushing our heads close together to get them into the same faceswap photo, so close I could reach out and touch him, put a single hand on his arm and say Joe, say I acknowledge and treasure our friendship, but instead we gaze into the glassy abyss of my own personal iPhone, so close and yet so infinitely far away, and we put our tongues out and waggle them, and go, What's the app called, again? and That's really cool, for a free app and Do the one that makes me look like Robert Downey Jr., and aliens could come down and see us there, near-touching but staring away, and easily conclude that we do not know each other, that we do not like each other at all, that we are mere props in our own narcissism, they would look at use gurning into the same iPhone and think: these idiots don't know themselves at all. These idiots don't know anything.
Do you ever think: what would I look like as a serial killer? This app can tell you that. This app can tell you how you would wear a streak of evil. For me, the answer is: unnervingly well. I would take to looking like a serial killer exceptionally well.
Being a panda bear does not make me happy in any way at all.
I am Stalin. I am Bowie. I am death.
I am MSQRD, the fun new app from the app store.
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