Personalized comic strips are gaining momentum akin to the epic winning streaks of Instagram, Facebook Camera, SnapChat and other top-performing image-sharing apps. BitStrips, the latest fad in Internet comics, allows you to create a visual status, share it with friends, or make a greeting card, all featuring you and your posse as a cast of endearing animated characters.
Earlier this year, it became the top downloaded free app on the Apple Store and fared well on Google’s Play Store, too. Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, recently invested in the growing application. The app launched back in 2008, but its rise in popularity was delayed until it became available on iOS as a mobile app.
Mass adoption followed, and soon, social media newsfeeds all over the world were clogged with cartoon renderings of people in humorous, ironic and often downright absurd situations.
Eyebrow shapes, chin definition, hairstyles and lash length are all customizable features on BitStrips. The question is, however, should we hesitate before designing virtual doppelgangers for our inner circle?
What might be an elegant brow shape to you might be unseemly to your self-conscious friend. After all, they may have some grievous insecurity about their appearance, which you’re not aware of.
Oops. You meant to render a flattering Demi Moore-ish jawline, but it came out looking a little harsh. Beware: Before you create a digital double on behalf of someone else, be prepared that your subject will scrutinize your work. “Is my hairline really that thin?” or “Do you really think my eyes are THAT bulgy?” will be common criticisms.
The Body Dysmorphic
When it comes to creating cartoon doppelgangers, certain categories might be trickier to navigate, like physique, chest size and height. Not sure which build to select for your best friend’s avatar? Better go for the smaller end of the scale. You wouldn’t want to be inadvertently responsible for the onset of an eating disorder.
What seems like a harmless digital interpretation of somebody's physical attributes (and you were sure to include the chunky wrists and large ear-lobes for accuracy’s sake) may awaken dormant insecurity in your subject.
Designing your own avatar tells others a lot about how you perceive your physical self. Some more self-assured types tend to create vanity avatars, adding unrealistically rosy cheeks and leaner silhouettes. Congratulations, you’re the delusional BitStripper.
The Spitting Image
Some people are just perfect candidates for cyber-selfhood. Once in a while, I see people whose BitStrips avatars bear an uncanny likeness to their real selves, from freckle arrangements to facial expressions. I don’t know how they do it.
This type of user manages to recreate an almost-perfect representation of their self without exaggerating beauty or underplaying flaws. Perhaps they're simply meant to exist as a humorous digital identikit.
Top Photo Credit: BitstripsForSchool