Virtual aging

We are often dissatisfied, not only about the big things in life, but also with the small ones.  We wish we had ordered a different dish at a restaurant as soon as we take a bite.  The library book we’ve had on hold for months arrives and we feel let down that it’s not as thrilling as we’d hoped. We feel sad when our necks start to look like they were better suited to be crowned by the heads of hens or roosters.

Thinking about how aging Baby Boomers become despondent when we compare current photos with those from our youth, I laughed when I read on the National Public Radio website about a tool now available that allows people in their twenties and thirties to see themselves as virtual seventy-year-olds.  The problem the new technology is trying to address is that many seniors arrive at retirement age without having their finances in order.  How do you convince people before it’s too late that they need to save early and often?  Apparently you show them what they’ll look like in forty to fifty years — with gray or balding heads, facial lines, perhaps pooching under the eyes — and this scares them into thinking long-term.

The research done with this instant aging tool focused on whether younger people would want to start saving more of their incomes after seeing themselves as they might look in the future.  Apparently seeing their older selves was enough to scare college-age students into saying they were going to double their savings rate. Who knows if the fear will last until they’re actually earning money and have an opportunity to save.

In this age of social media, we are called on to reveal in public spaces what we really look like, regardless of age.  The other day a friend complained that she couldn’t find any good photos for her blog and Facebook page that didn’t show her neck. For those who find pictures showing this part of their anatomies troublesome, I think I’ve found just the tool to disguise it. It’s called a barrel pillory, which was used in England as early as the thirteenth century to punish public drunkenness. According to Wikipedia, “It fitted over the entire body, with the head sticking out from a hole in the top.”  To those for whom this seems a bit extreme, you could always substitute one of your baby pictures or just put your chicken necks out there on display as a sign you’ve survived long enough to see changes in your bodies, something no virtual photo can guarantee.

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
This entry was posted in aging and appearance, personal reflections and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Virtual aging

  1. Senior Medalist says:

    I am amazed that seeing their older selves made college-age students want to double their savings rate. I think at that age I would have been moved to spend it all as it comes in rather than live long enough to look like I do today!

  2. Karen Clark says:

    Turtlenecks! great inventions.

  3. travelnwrite says:

    “I Feel Bad About My Neck and other thoughts on Women’s Aging” by Nora Efron is a book that puts the neck and other signs of aging into a laughable perspective. One nice thing is that being old enough to worry about neck wrinkles also means I am old enough to not understand the technology that would allow my ‘old self’ to show up in photos, as evidenced by that red squiggly blox next to my name instead of the photo that is supposed to be showing my old neck right now.

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