In the light of the pandemic, life and communication online has only accelerated. We may not know when the next fete will come or when we can ‘buss ah lime’ together but as people globally are virtually connecting, so are we as Trinbagoians.
Snapchat’s Bitmoji has been around for some time, and now Facebook has its own version of the virtual lookalikes. Facebook’s new Avatar feature lets you create a mini version of yourself to use in stories, comments and on Facebook Messenger. And as with everything else, Trini’s MUST overdo!
So much of our interactions these days are taking place online, which is why several Facebook users in Trinidad and Tobago have created their avatar look-alike and comparing theirs with their friends, “If some of allyuh looked at least 10% as good as allyuh avatar eh,” one Facebook user said.
Let’s admit that we’re in the era of the selfie but getting a selfie right can take a lot of effort. Not so with cartoon avatars. The perfect look is just a click away.
Trini’s are taking advantage of the proxy for the delivery of our thoughts, whether we want to throw a little ‘peekong’ or show off a bit, it’s already a social media standard that is only becoming more and more reliable. While Emojis help make our messages flourish ‘de bacchanal’ with hand gestures, smiley faces and sex icons, the new Facebook avatars makes communication much easier and often more fun.
Their accessories help. When I don’t say it, my avatar is, the dynamics of interaction change. As a result, there is less responsibility, courage or effort required. Snaps, Apples and Facebook avatars help us say what our words can’t, or what we don’t want to say ourselves.
And the characteristics we may occasionally dislike about ourselves in real life — our curly kinky hair, thick eyebrows, thin lips — can be glorified as they’re buffed out in digital brushstrokes. Frizzy hair in its cartoon form is trendy!
“There’s a whole way you have to represent yourself in a selfie because you have a look, you have friends, you’re having a moment. It’s mission critical that you get the selfie right,” says Beth Coleman, author of Hello, Avatar, which examines online identity. “With Memoji, we get to be totally playful, it’s like we have a little friend or mini-me or a twin and there’s zero stress.”
“With cartoons, once you exaggerate a shape … it becomes adorable,” says the University of Waterloo professor, who focuses on experimental digital media. “We really cannot resist cute. It’s like people swoon for cute.”
In a meta-analysis of 30 trend reports for 2020, the most commonly predicted cultural change was the continued blurring between the physical and the digital. Online and offline are gradually overlapping with virtual clothing and AR makeup, with industrial digital twins and synthetic influencers. There has never been only one real life, but the line between the virtual and the visceral is getting thinner.
You can create your own avatar by going to the Facebook or Messenger comment composer and clicking on the Smiley button, followed by the Sticker tab. You can then click Create Your Avatar from there.