by Greg Schwem
The ongoing stay-at-home order has forced most of us to seek amusement by posting photos of ourselves from bygone eras to our social media accounts.
“Share your high school senior picture” was trending last week; a challenge I was about to undertake until I read how doing so could invite hackers to glean more information about me, such as where I attended school, where I currently lived and who did such a horrible job cutting my hair in 1980.
Security experts also warned that more information could be easily obtained once this information was known, as many people choose to use their high school as a security answer or worse, their password. Those of you who attended Catholic schools need not worry; even the most skilled hacker is probably going to give up before guessing, “AcademyOfOurLadyOfGoodCounsel1994.”
Despite not participating, I enjoyed seeing these throwback photos, from graduation and other events, posted by friends. Did everybody in the 1970s wear thick, black horn-rimmed glasses and look like they worked for the Apollo space program?
Ladies, if you attended college in the early 1980s, did the law require you to part your hair down the middle and then feather it back with enough aerosol to start a salon?
And guys, did you not realize that only David Coverdale, from Whitesnake, and Jon Bon Jovi could pull off the big hair, pompadour look? The rest of you had that “just exited a wind tunnel” look.
Tom, my long-time comedian friend in New York, often reminds me why he has never jumped on the fashion bandwagon. “The hipper your clothes are today, the more ridiculous photos of you are going to look in 20 years,” he says on stage.
I won’t argue.
When scientists find a vaccine for COVID-19, the “all clear” signal is given, and life returns to whatever is subsequently defined as “normal,” we will all be left with treasure troves of photos taken during the pandemic. And in future decades, when those photos find their way into school history books (assuming schools and books still exist) or onto social media sites, viewers won’t need to look at a hairstyle, a car in the background or an item of clothing to determine the photo was indeed shot in 2020.
For starters, the viewer only has to see the photo’s dimensions. It will most likely be shot vertically, with a 9-by-16 aspect ratio. The photo will contain only one subject. Correction, one HUMAN subject. Animals may be included, but more people? Absolutely not, for they will all be standing at least 6 feet away and, therefore, out of frame.
The subject will be wearing sweatpants and a faded T-shirt containing some semblance of the slogan, “We’re All in this Together.” He or she will be shoeless. Men will have facial stubble; sadly, so will some women. Hairstyles won’t have complimentary names like “The Rachel,” “Charlie’s Angels” or “The David Hasselhoff.” Instead, all hair will fall into the “Dang, That Should Have Been Cut Weeks Ago” category.
Photos of celebratory occasions will feature one participant, perfectly centered, wearing a “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” party hat, while grainy, square images of others hover overhead. The word “Zoom” will appear somewhere.
The “guess where this photo was taken” game will be boring once everybody realizes the answer is always the same: “Uh, your house?” Kids who play sports won’t appear in photos wearing brightly colored uniforms while baseball diamonds and soccer fields glisten behind them. Instead, the background will be a basement wall or a garage door. Youth basketball players, take heart: At least the vertical photos will make you look taller than you are.
Since the stay-at-home order began in mid-March, I have neglected to take many photos, so anxious am I to erase this moment from my life, rather than record it for future viewing. I did break down last weekend and post a selfie, snapped while my wife cut my hair. The pandemic, I realized, would not date it.
Trust me, even without a global health crisis, that image is horrifying and depressing.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.)
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s monthly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at www.gregschwem.com)