TikTok’s teenage filter confronts us with our own mortality

TikTok’s teenage filter confronts us with our own mortality

TikTok's teenage filter confronts us with our own mortality

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People on TikTok are getting emotional because of an AR filter that makes you look like a teenager. Juxtaposed next to each other, the filter shows you as you are, then a version of you with perfectly smooth skin and strange, youthful innocence.


The filter elicited a surprisingly wide range of emotions.

“I hadn’t seen her for a very long time,” wrote one TikToker in a post with over 500,000 views. “Yes…I cried.” In a video with 1 million views, another user wrote, “This filter gave me the opportunity to finally talk to myself younger,” reflecting how much she had grown since leaving a situation. abusive life.

Meanwhile, others filmed TikToks mocking the dramatic reactions to seeing a ‘younger self’, while some people joked that being a teenager doesn’t mean you have skin. perfect – it probably means you can’t keep your acne under control.

We know social media can make us feel bad about how we look. Only in this case, instead of comparing ourselves to others, this filter pushes us to compare ourselves to who we were in the past. Still, that’s a distorted sense of reality — you probably didn’t look like a baby cherub as a teenager, and you might have wrinkles now… but you’re probably a lot more well-adjusted with a lot less chemistry homework.

But for many users, it’s not a baby’s soft skin that makes them emotional. Rather, the filter elicits a sense of grief over the regrets they have of not enjoying life when they were younger or the difficult decisions they had to make as adults. Many of these videos are to the song “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe (which, surprisingly, isn’t the same band that wrote “Bittersweet Symphony”). The brooding ’90s alt-rock song has a fitting chorus for the emotions bubbling over for Gen X: “For the life of me, I can’t remember/What made us think we were wise and wouldn’t do never compromise.”

While these TikToks are sentimental, it’s far from the first time an AR filter or app has gone viral to show us what we look like when we’re young, or what we might look like when we’re old.

Just a few months ago, AI-generated fantasy avatars were all the rage, though that trend has slowed considerably. And once in a while, a filter that makes you look like an animated Disney character will become predictable on Snapchat or TikTok, entertaining our brainworms for a while until we get bored again.

These AR filters are more prone to going viral though, as there’s a smaller barrier to entry – you don’t need to download a new app, which is reassuring given the shady history of many apps. of viral photo editing. SSome photo applications have proven to be vectors of malware, while IIn other cases, users have worried about what happens to the photos they upload to these apps. These concerns surfaced around the Russia-based AI editor FaceAppwho then had to specify in A declaration that it might store updated photos in the cloud for “performance and traffic reasons”, but most images are deleted within 48 hours.

Some users may have security concerns about TikTok, but TikTok claims that it does not collect or store our biometric data when we use these AR filters.

Either way, as you lazily browse TikTok, just remember: we’re all going to die someday!


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