“Mirror mirror on the wall…who’s the fairest of them all?” asked the evil queen. "Thou, O Queen, are the fairest of all." This pleased the queen greatly as she knew that her magical mirror could speak nothing but the truth.  

These lines are from the fairy tale "Snow White" written in the 19th century and is known widely across the world today. These fairy tales make the most delicate elements of a girl’s childhood memories. In a way though they also reflect our mindset about ‘perceived beauty’ as a society. Somehow all the fairy tales talk of BEAUTIFUL princesses or a poor but PRETTY girl. What are stories- just a manifestation of our thoughts and what we believe in. Children growing with these kinds of stories form this screwed opinion about ‘beauty' quite at an early stage.

Most men want a fair, slim and tall girl as girlfriends/wives and most women strive to achieve this ‘set standard’ of beauty. We don’t want to age or add a bit of layer to our frame! Given our obsession with beauty, is it a wonder that the evil queen wanted to be the ‘fairest of them all’! Going under the knife is almost an accepted thing in the affluent section of society and Botox is like a pill of iron supplement. As humans, we have always loved ourselves and have strived to look ‘attractive’. Unfortunately, this yearning to look good and get validation through ‘likes’ and ‘comments’, has acquired a dangerous proportion in this era of digital existence.

In today’s times, the mirror has given way to FB and such social platforms and this ‘ten-year challenge’ is an extension of that story where we are both- the evil queen as well as the pious Snow White. Pictures of celebrities, of common people, are filling up the timelines. What do you gain- an instant gratification through those likes and comments on your collage of ‘then and now’. Chances are if you are posting it, you look the same you looked ten years back or probably better with some extra kilos gone. But what about people who have changed differently, have developed pot bellies, puffy eyes, and balding patches. Perhaps they either get depressed (another peril) about their looks as compared to their friends or post heavily edited pictures. The real world is no longer real. We are all busy making our ‘online avatar’ look perfect. Who cares anyway, as long as the FB mirror is telling us that we are the fairest of them all!!! In the bargain though, we are giving way too much of ourselves to these tech companies!

I have reasons to believe that Mark Zuckerberg is far better in understanding human psychology than he is at technology and it is this understanding that has helped him take FB where it is. He knows, we love ourselves and prove so time and again through all those games which prompt us with questions like, ‘ want to know which actress do you resemble’ or ‘which country did you live in, in your last birth,’ and yeah FB also describes your virtues. More often than not, you are made to resemble some pretty actress and your place of previous birth would be some exotic country and virtues- ah all so lovely!!  And you proudly share that on your timeline. It comes across as authentication to what you believe in and want others too to perceive you similarly. This may be an innocent challenge/game for you where you showcase your best side to the world and feel happy for some time but it’s a very very serious thing for FB and platforms like this.

In our effort and want for that feeling of fulfilment, we are helping build a massive database for these tech companies which can eventually turn into something that we might not be ready to face in the future. Already there is so much happening in terms of data misuse and this calls for extra cautiousness. This ten-year challenge too is something like this. By playing with your ‘Snow White’ psych, these tech giants are at it- AGAIN!

Have you ever wondered, how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition which in turn can have serious ramifications that we can’t yet fully fathom! And all this is happening without much accountability and transparency. Your consent doesn’t figure in the list of ‘rules’ that these companies play by. If you haven’t pondered over these, do so now.

It’s important to draw a line between fairy tales’ mirror and ‘social media mirrors’ which might be telling you that you are the fairest of them all but in return is taking away something very precious!  It's time to stop playing ‘narcissists’ for our own good!

Picture credit #wired

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