Who started 10YearChallenge on social media

debateAre Before And After Memes Harmless?

Age-related memes regularly generate hype on social media. Millions of users are also taking part in the current “10 Year Challenge”. Is this safe fun or cause for concern?

Reese Witherspoon did it. The squad of RB Leipzig too. And millions of others with less prominent names joined in too.

We are talking about the "10 Year Challenge". Have at the beginning of the year Facebook- Gets users of the campaign worldwide attention. Users should be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram Post two pictures of yourself: one from 2009 and a current one from this year. This included hashtags like # 10YearChallenge, # 2009vs2019, #HowHardDiDAgingHitYou or #GlowUp and, if necessary, a comment about personal development.

It doesn't take more for the viral hit. Alone on Instagram there are now over four million contributions to # 10YearChallenge. There are more every day.

Dude you look good

Age-related internet memes have been around for a long time. Users also post under the terms "Throwback Thursday" and "Flashback Friday" Facebook their memories. But what is the attraction of these challenges? And what is at stake?

Scientists have come up with various answers to this. The desire for recognition certainly plays a role, said Kevin LaBar from Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the Duke University, Durham, the New York Times.

Many want to show the world that they have opted for the better. Others want to prove that time cannot harm their attractiveness. Or that they seem to manage to stay beautiful without any effort.

Take Reese Witherspoon, for example. The 42 year old Hollywood-Actress published on her Instagram-Account two photos of yourself on which she looks almost exactly the same. There seem to be more days than years between the recordings.

Witherspoon's youthful appearance in 2019 may be due to the work of make-up artists or a flattering camera work or image editing - this does not detract from the enthusiasm of her followers.

Nostalgia instead of narcissism

Purpose accomplished, one might deduce. According to LaBar, the “10 Year Challenge” is more than a game of vanity. Some users use it to mark important life events: for example, graduating from university. In such cases, the challenge is for self-assurance, says LaBar.

Looking back can have another, psychologically valuable effect - namely when it creates nostalgia. Studies have shown that people who rave about the "good old days" tend to feel younger, healthier, and more optimistic than others who are less fond of the past.

If the beautiful memories are then also shared with others, throwback challenges create a feeling of connectedness. This is also due to the fact that basically everyone can take part in them and they are politically and socially harmless. Because everyone wants to age “well” somehow. So little material for discussion. Actually.

From psychology to politics

However, some users assume that the whole thing is superficial and dishonest. User Sam Thorne posted on Twitter the image of two trash cans. The critical message: self-presentation is and will remain junk.

Others adopt a more serious tone. “The only 10 year challenge that should interest us” is a comment that is currently often posted along with images of melting icebergs, dying coral reefs or deforested rainforests. The users want to draw attention to the rapid destruction of the environment by human interference and climate change.

Unlike selfies, these pictures have a political function, writes journalist Sarah Thust. “They should shake people up.” At the same time, they send an important signal: During the challenge, users can generate clicks not only through self-portrayals but also through world views.

And now?

Otherwise, according to Thust, they are giving away their personal data. And what happens to them is a mystery. American technology consultant Kate O'Neill was one of the first to ask whether Facebook has a benefit from the meme. Could the company possibly use the before and after images to further develop its facial recognition software?

It is known that Facebook Uses software to identify people and collect user data. This is used, among other things, in the “Portal” smart home device. The group uses the personal data to place customized advertising.

Behind the "10 Year Challenge" wants Facebook not stuck though. The meme would have users started by themselves, it says on Twitter, and just be a testament to the fun people have with and on Facebook. The corporation must see it that way.