What Will I Look Like When I Grow Up – Getting old doesn’t just mean blinking – although there is a lot of fear of them. Chelsea Stahl/NBC News; getty paintings
If you really want to know what old age feels like, forget the fun of FaceApp, whose artificial intelligence technology can age you in a matter of seconds on your phone. Just input a current photo and the app will generate a fake wrinkled face, saggy cheeks and thinning gray hair. But while the app quickly went viral, with artificially aged photos of celebrities and friends appearing across social media, those images have almost nothing to do with the actual experience of aging in America.
What Will I Look Like When I Grow Up
Fear of the physical changes that come with old age often means avoiding what comes next – if you’re lucky enough to live long.
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Obviously, the application must observe the surface level. But the way people react to these photos – with shock and even disgust – says a lot about how we think about the inevitable human aging process. Indeed, fear and dread of the physical changes of old age often mean avoiding what’s to come – if you’re lucky enough to live long. The happiest women now will live into their 80s or beyond, and statistically we are likely to outlive our partners or husbands. This means that getting older isn’t just about wrinkles – although there are plenty of concerns about them, thanks to our obsession with youthful beauty. For many women, and for many men as well, getting older is as much a psychological change as it is an aesthetic one.
Our 100-unit building is populated with a very specific demographic—older residents who are selling their family homes either move here and put their feet first or eventually move in to finish their day at the nursing home. Many come here in their 70s, 80s or 90s; ambulances pulling in and out of our driveway is a common occurrence.
Reason? Large empty houses are expensive to maintain. Older people can stay close to longtime friends in the city. The entrance to the building is flat and smooth, easy to navigate for someone with a cane, walker, or even a wheelchair. There is a small stone bench next to the front door, in the shade of a cherry tree, where some residents sit for hours, often with a helper by their side.
Why would an age display app want this? Perhaps because afterlife remains a mystery to most of us until we get there, a phase that younger people rarely see presented instinctively or even very realistically. Not in the media. Not in the movies. Not on Netflix. Not in advertising unless it’s for drugs or funeral insurance.
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When older faces do appear, they are often smooth, shiny and surgically altered – not how the 80s or 90s look to the average person.
Few of us currently live with or regularly visit someone decades older than us. We move to cities to work or study, often leaving our seniors miles away. When we are busy with our own families, free time is a valuable resource. How many of them decide to spend it with someone they feel they have little in common with?
Both my grandmothers died the year I turned 18 and I never got to know them. One of them I still miss terribly, the imperious grande dame of Chicago who loved me dearly, made me pudding, taught me, a quiet Canadian, to reason, and restored my drooping spirits when I fled from boarding school to her house, to sit in front of the TV, a rare delight.
Thanks to an increasingly segregated lifestyle – the norm for most of us – I’ve spent my adult life as a tenant among my peers, not a landlord. Now I share the lobby and laundry room with neighbors who actually receive defined benefit pensions, some of whom served in World War II.
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One of them, a retired drama teacher, knew that my family was going back to Canada soon for a vacation, and he gave us $25 in Canadian bills that had been retired to use. It took me a minute to understand why one of them looked so strange – it had been published since 1937 and featured King George VI instead of Queen Elizabeth.
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Attending a local church for several decades, even sporadically, also revealed the complexities of intergenerational life and gave me a more nuanced and intimate view of aging. The tall, serene professor, once distant and a little wild, now arrives with his assistant, so hunched over as to be barely recognizable. Last year an elderly lady with long white braids who had been singing in our choir for years passed away. It’s comforting to know that the community welcomes you of all ages.
Attending a local church for several decades, even sporadically, also revealed the complexities of intergenerational life and gave me a more nuanced and intimate view of aging.
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This year, our pastor’s wife started a weekly meditation group, where about a dozen women come every Wednesday morning. The youngest is maybe 50, the oldest 95. Nowhere else do I sit and share stories as deeply personal as this one, and I assume we have little in common, so divided by generations.
However, we found that three of us survived the sudden abandonment of our husbands. Some have also faced cancer and survived, grateful to find compassion and understanding there. Our stories emerge little by little over time as we realize how many shared experiences, despite the decades that separate us.
Pain and joy know no age limits. You certainly can’t try them out just by painting some digital ripples. But while FaceApp won’t help ease our many cultural inhibitions about aging, perhaps it could start an important conversation about the real challenges — and benefits — of aging.
Caitlin Kelly, an award-winning freelance writer and author, is a former reporter for the New York Daily News, among others. He also coaches other writers. This is our first crop and I wonder if it feels like it’s growing the way it should. It’s already been 30 days. We put him outside during the day and bring him back in at night. What do you think?
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What type of soil is it on? are you feeding it? it’s cold outside grows slowly.
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30 days is pretty slow for that size. From seed, it should be around 10 to 15 days. Feeding it nutrients can increase growth. Have you ever thought about creating a small indoor space to run this plant with artificial light? If you can get them outside, leave them, but then again, vegetable season is over and it can be very cold, which can stunt growth during the day…
We planted it in an organic potting mix for herbs. We fed him Miracle Gro for houseplants – 8-7-6 until we noticed the stem was turning purple and I went to the site and saw a lot of people saying not to use Mircle Gro. Our outside temperatures were 65 to 70 days and 35 to 45 nights, so we bring them in at night. While in use, we are using a grow light that we bought at Walmart. We are in an RV so space and power is limited. We notice a brown area at the base of the plant that looks a little smaller than the rest of the stem, but appears to be self-repairing.
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Do you have another seed? Start with a new seed in a rich organic soil like Fox Farm Ocean Forest or a soilless soil like Coco Coir or a mixture of perlite and vermiculite that will keep the plant thriving. Using good nutrients instead of Miracle Grow will help a lot. The plant will be ready with seeds in 3-4 months, a little more or less depends on the growing season.
If you don’t have new seeds, try transplanting them into a bigger pot, ditch the Miracle Grow, get some Cannabis Nuts and see how that helps. You can stick with your current organic soil mix if you wish and upgrade later or keep it if the soil is not part of the problem.
Hey grumpy… I understand you’re out of the question for now… how are you going to make this girl grow up in a few weeks?… especially in the trailer?…… not sure if all of that makes sense… you left it another 12 weeks or so… and it’s cooling down my man… i don’t think that’s gonna happen… sorry… .
We have other seeds, but I think we’ll wait until spring to do something with them. As you all say it is
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