Richard Ord: The ugly truth of war and internet dating

A scene from First World War film They Shall Not Grow Old.
A scene from First World War film They Shall Not Grow Old.

Anyone who has watched Peter Jackson’s movie They Shall Not Grow Old in which he used modern digital technology to ‘bring to life’ century old footage of the First World War cannot fail to be impressed or moved.

It is a compelling hour and a half in which the grainy, stuttering and unintentionally comical moving images of the 1800s have been painstakingly coloured and digitized, with authentic sound and voices added. The footage looks and sounds like something shot yesterday, not 100-plus years ago.

It got me thinking. Will similar advanced technology have to be used by historians in 100 years time to reverse engineer the pictures we take today?

Just as First World War infantrymen didn’t skittle across the ground at 30mph like the Tin Man on speed, so the majority of people on Facebook and Instagram aren’t the wrinkle-free angels we see staring out at us.

If everyone looked even half as good as their Facebook profile pictures we’d be living in world far easier on the eye. A trip into town would be like walking through a Cosmopolitan photoshoot, rather than, as is usually the case in Whitley Bay, elbowing your way through the Stars Wars bar.

I had the pleasure of perusing the internet dating site Tinder not that long ago. What an adventure that turned out to be!

Why, I asked myself, were these beautiful creatures having to use an online dating site to find love? Turns out, it’s because not all of them were really as beautiful as their photographs suggested.

Camera filters and other modern jiggery pokery was clearly used to enhance the images uploaded. They brightened the eyes, erased the crow’s feet, whitened teeth and in some instances, I kid you not, even added furry ears and bunny noses!

Why would you do that? I guess it was an attempt to show they had a sense of humour … or an unsightly lump to disguise. Either is reason enough to swipe left.

For those unfamiliar with Tinder, or not desperate enough give it a go, it’s a dating site in which you upload photographs of yourself in a bid to find a partner. If you like someone you swipe right, you don’t like them, you swipe left. If both parties swipe right, it pops up as match. Bingo!

If I learned one thing on Tinder, it’s not to be too hasty with the swipe rights. That alluring wrinkle-free stunner may not be all she seems. Sure enough, if you delve into her other uploaded pictures you can usually get to the truth.

“Hmm, why has she uploaded a picture of her mother? Wait a minute …”

She hasn’t uploaded a pic of her mother. That’s her filter-free fizzog.

Is it any wonder that today’s teenagers and young adults are having less sex than ever before. They communicate mainly through social media sites with filters galore.

The reality probably never matches the online perfection.

God help (and pity) the historians trying to use technology in 100 years hence to untangle the filters and digital effects to get to the truth of what people in the 2000s really looked like.

And the name of that movie? They Shall Not Grow Old Without Digital Meddling ...