Last week, Facebook released what we’ve all been waiting for … no, not a way to stop the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories or a timeline that doesn’t show you the same five stories over and over again but … avatars!
Just what we needed, another avatar we can use instead of a face on Facebook.
After months of stay-at-home orders and shut down businesses, our real faces are too hideous to see. Our real hair to wild and unkempt. Our real outfits just underwear. Let us instead dive completely into a cartoon-ified virtual world and pretend none of this is happening.
Facebook’s avatar, like Bitmoji and Apple’s Memjoi, is customized by the user and is basically a Bitmoji ripoff, but with fewer options for stickers and for outfits.
It’s hard to pick a “best” and “worst” in the personal avatar world.
Facebook’s has some interesting face customization abilities, which still didn’t help me get my face shape or skin color right. Even Apple doesn’t have an option for brown-almost-black hair that isn’t straight or curly but is grown out and never styled due to laziness or subversion of the dominant paradigm, depending on the day.
That said, Facebook gave me the option of a jaunty beret in many colors, so maybe this just the push I need to become a beret person like I’ve always wanted.
If you want your own Facebook avatar, go to the app on your phone and tap the three horizontal lines in the bottom-right corner. Then scroll down to “See More,” click “avatars,” and go wild.
Apple’s Memoji can replace emojis, which in theory is fun, but honestly, you aren’t going to make your Memoji look any more like you than the generic shrugging person, so why try?
Once again, I couldn’t get my face shape, skin color, nose shape, hair color or style or glasses right.
I thought about going back in and fixing at least my skin color, but it turns out on my phone this skin color looks more accurate and I don’t have all day to spend trying to color match my skin by device. It’s impossible to get the exact hue of pink/olive/adult acne right anyway.
Bitmoji, of course, is where you go for pizzazz and very specific stickers.
What I like about Bitmoji, if one can like these things, is that it’s silly and I can wear a bee costume and blue lipstick.
It’s more “creative” than the others, but that’s the problem, really. How creative can you really be, when you are just picking between a set of choices?
All of these emoji-selves have a dystopian “Black Mirror” vibe. The idea is all of us can fit into this prescribed set of face shapes and skin colors and outfits. It erases the interesting bits of people, the messy hair and messy house.
We are all obsessed with proving we exist and social media has given us this chance to not only prove it but curate that existence, by sharing the best moments of our lives with the best lighting. The result of this can be a shared sense of isolation, because no one’s life is that good.
Personalized emojis take us one step further away from each other, smoothing out our skin and de-wrinkling our shirts.
Sure personal emojis can be fun, but maybe what we need now are fewer avatars for our selves and more real pictures of our actual selves, messy hair, messy houses, trying to hold it all together. That way, at least, we will realize we are all dealing with the same thing.
— Lizzy Acker