• Patrick McAndrew

Have You Met My Friend, Lil Miquela?

Nah…I’m just kidding with you.  We aren’t really friends.  She does have over one million followers on Instagram, however.  And though we aren’t acquainted, I do like that she is passionate about important social justice issues.  Perhaps she is too famous for me to be friends with her.  Or maybe it’s that she isn’t human enough.

“Wo, wo, wo!  Why are you being so harsh!” you may say.  “Not human enough?!  That’s a low blow, my friend, for we are all equals on this Earth!”  While this may be true, Lil Miquela isn’t quite human.  Actually, she isn’t human at all.  As stated in an article in The Cut, “She is an avatar puppeteered by Brud, a mysterious L.A.-based start-up of ‘engineers, storytellers, and dreamers’ who claim to specialize in artificial intelligence and robotics.”

Lil Miquela came out as a robot recently when another avatar, also created by Brud, ousted her on some of her beliefs.  I went to her Instagram page and was surprised to find that so many people thought she was real.  However, I am looking at her profile with an eye of already knowing she isn’t real.  Everyone else didn’t have reason to think otherwise (besides the photos looking rather fake).

The creators at Brud made Lil Miquela as an experiment.  So many of us fake up our real lives to make them seem better or to make ourselves look more attractive.  So Brud questioned, “What if I make something that is fake more real?”  While it only came out recently that Lil Miquela is, in fact, not a real person, the future of her is unsure.  As Emilia Petrarea, the author of the article, comments, “Even if there isn’t a hidden endgame for Lil Miquela, she holds up a mirror to the ways in which technology has morphed our constructions of self.”

So much of our time is spent engaged on the Internet and in social media, absorbing other peoples’ lives and sometimes wishing they were our own.  It’s somewhat sad as we sit on the side lines of our lives and watch them run their course without engaging in them fully.  A devotion to Lil Miquela, and other recent avatars, only expedites this issue, as we now are truly consuming our time with illusions that aren’t real.

One may argue that we have been doing this for awhile.  People play video games, watch movies, and read fantasy novels.  So, what makes this different?  The difference is that, for the longest time, no one believed Lil Miquela was fake, or at least many people did not.  We were engaging with something that we believed to be real, which wasn’t.

It sure is a strong comment on how we are falling deeper and deeper into the online world.  For many, the menial surroundings of everyday living cannot compete with the stimulus and excitement of what is happening on the screen.  And, because our attention is always consumed, we miss the littlest things that mean the most.

I’m not one to judge for those who follow Lil Miquela.  Even since she was ousted as a robot, many people are still standing by her side and supporting her.  So long as we don’t go too deep that we are neglecting our actual lives, I think we will be okay.  It can be fun to live in an alternate world for a little while.  But while it can be all fun and games, it’s important to know where the stop button is so that we can actually start living again.

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