Beware of your “Filtered Self!” Dangerous To Your Retirement
We just love to post photos of ourselves looking like cover girls and boys. Apps that remove all traces of pimples, eyebags, and wrinkles, put contours, make us look skinny, pump our boobs and abs, etc. are all over the internet. It’s the age of digital facelifts with one click!
Our filtered beauty-mode photos make us feel good. Why wouldn’t they? Each time you post them, you get loads of likes and hearts, with matching comments such as, “Gorgeous!” “Wow, you and your children look like siblings!” “You never grew any year older since…” “You look like you’re only in your twenties!” and many more flattery chuvas.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for looking your best so we don’t add to visual pollution, but hey, “Hinay, hinay lang, huwag naman yong wala ka ng pores sa profile picture mo!”
Have you ever experienced setting up a meeting with someone for the first time with just the profile picture as your guide? Come the appointed time you have a hard time looking for the person, not knowing that he/she is just right beside you and then you get shocked when he/she introduces herself. Tadan! You were filter-fooled! Then you try to collect yourself from shock and imagine taking off some pounds, removing the wrinkles and blemishes from the face in order to reconcile the profile picture with the actual person right in front of you. Of course, it’s a worse scenario if you’re the one who used the photoshop-misleading profile picture because the other person might unintentionally say, “Ay, hindi kita nakilala, ang ganda mo sa profile pic!” Hahaha! It will be hard to recover from that initial remark, for both parties.
Anyway, I write about this because there is danger in getting into the habit of filter-fooling yourself that goes beyond disastrous first meetings like the scenario above. Filter-fooling is bad for your retirement life!
Say that again? How can this be? What is the connection between our retirement life and our illusions of being gorgeous and looking forever young? Aren’t we just fishing for likes and hearts and feel-good comments?
We are by nature myopic or near-sighted when it comes to handling our money. We are so affected by YOLO (You Only Live Once) that we easily forget YAGO (You Also Grow Old). It is hard to do the right money behavior today if we do not experience its ill effects as an immediate feedback. For example, you set aside zero savings this month. You will not starve or be homeless right away. But if you do this month after month, year after year, you may end up starving and being homeless when you’re old.
Given this myopic tendency, you exacerbate things by overdoing digital filters to look younger. Even zoom has digital tricks already. It becomes more difficult to imagine your future old self. You view your future old self as a stranger and you’re more chummy-chummy with your filter-fooled self. If this is the case, how can you set aside money for retirement? Wouldn’t it be difficult to sacrifice setting aside money for a stranger? Wouldn’t you rather spend money to buy nice stuff for your gorgeous filter-fooled self?
In a study done by Hal Hershfield, Daniel Goldstein, William Sharpe, Jesse Fox, Leo Yeykelis, Laura Carstensen, and Jeremy Bailenson entitled Increasing Saving Behavior Through Age-Progressed Renderings of the Future Self, they found out that allowing people to interact with age-progressed renderings of themselves cause them to allocate more resources toward the future. Those who interacted with their older avatars decided to save more. (Click link to read the study)
I was fascinated by this study and we did a survey among Filipino students using the face app. Instead of just comparing the results of how the respondents would allocate funds when exposed to their future old selves versus no exposure, we added an exposure to a beautified younger self. The respondents were grouped into three:
Group 1: Exposed to unfiltered photo of oneself
Group 2: Exposed to oldified photo of oneself
Group 3: Exposed to young/beautified photo of oneself
In answer to questions on allocation for savings, investments, these are their resulting savings rates.
As you can see from the above table, those exposed to a photo of their future old self registered higher savings rates, as compared to those exposed to unfiltered photo. What is interesting to note is that those exposed to their younger and beautified self exhibited the lowest savings rates, with a staggering 50% just saving whatever is left, a sure formula for a disastrous retirement!
Let’s have some fun. Let’s oldify ourselves! I’m not saying that you should stop looking your best. Please continue to do so, but stop using super filter-fooled pictures. But use apps that will show you your future old self. You don’t have to use it as your profile picture, but if you do, I assure you that the person you will meet F2F for the first time will say, “Oh my! You look 100 times lovelier in person!” And most of all, you get to prepare better for your retirement. Come to think of it. Who do you think would actually look older when retirement comes? The one who kept filter-fooling her/himself or the one who oldified her/himself to motivate more saving and investing?
1. Part of being prepared for retirement is to know where you stand in your FQ Journey, take the FQ Test.
This article is also published in Philstar.