This is me. My wife took this picture for an NPR Perspectives I recorded in San Francisco. I used to look better than this.
But I look kind of familiar, don’t I? That’s because I look kind of like a bunch of people. I don’t think so–but plenty of people do. They ask me if I work at their bank. They ask me if my name is Frank. They are sure they’ve met me before. They ask this question:
Has anyone ever told you you look like ________________?
And here’s how they fill in the blank:
When I’m giving breast exams, they say I look like Dr. Dean Edell.
When I’m throwing the football or singing in the Mormon Church, they say I look like Steve Young.
Sometimes they say I look like Willem Dafoe. He’s an actor with a bony face. They think this is a compliment.
This is Lyle Lovett. This is not really that much of a compliment. My nose isn’t this big. But he is talented and he did sleep with Julia Roberts.
This is the guy from Glee, Mathew Morrison. He is a dreamboat. It’s okay if they say I look like Mathew Morrison. Two women in the neighborhood have said this. They were drunk.
When I was about 21 I was playing in a band travelling around the US and up into Canada. Along the way, believe it or not, I met some women. A blonde in a red dress (she looked kind of like Heather Locklear in the TJ Hooker Era) asked me if I was single. She told me I looked like her ex-boyfriend who she had just broken up with. I told her I had a girlfriend, and then, just because I wanted to see if she was for real, I asked her if she had a picture of her ex.
She told me she did.
She pulled out her wallet and showed me a picture. There, looking up at me, was me. I mean, the guy looked just like me.
It was freaky.
Soon Facial Recognition Systems will be refined and set loose on the internet. And every one of you reading this is going to find out something you always knew but didn’t want to admit.
You’re not the only one.
There is someone out there in the world who looks damn near exactly like you.
The entertainment execs will get a hold of this.
We can make money, they will say.
People can meet copies of themselves! There will be a TV show voraciously hyped—but lasting only one season. The executives will not have anticipated one important aspect of human behavior.
People want to believe they’re unique.
This show will subconsciously suggest otherwise. The ratings will precipitously drop. People will go into their bathrooms, stare at themselves in the mirror and begin to cry.
They won’t know why they are crying, but the tears will come and come.
They will cry until their eyes are red. They will weep so loudly their children will stand outside the door and ask if they are alright.
And then, with the sound of a small voice in their ears, after rubbing their eyes raw, they will look at their reflection and begin to laugh.
They will laugh at their red eyes and their splotchy skin and they will realize that, in that short period of time, they have changed.
And they will smile.
And then they will whisper defiantly to their own reflection:
I am me.