I’m a dedicated misanthropist, but once in a while something happens that makes me believe in humanity once again. Like Matt Reed’s HoriZuck Lens for Snapchat, a filter that will turn your face into a version of Mark Zuckerberg’s viral Horizon Worlds avatar to terrorize your friends and family. Just scan the Snapcode below into Snapchat, and a dead-eyes version of yourself will materialize in real time.
In case you are one of the few human beings not aware of what this all means, here’s a quick recap: last week, Zuckerberg demonstrated once again how terrible his metaverse can be by releasing a selfie using a new VR avatar that looked something like a 3D, demonic porcelain doll version of himself rendered on a Nintendo Wii. The thing was dreadfully bizarre and the internet bursted in a supernova of hatred and acid. Zuckerberg posted a new avatar update in response—a barely acceptable Ken doll rendition of his face—but people wouldn’t let go. Finally, looping the loop, everything arrived to this magical conclusion thanks to Reed’s homemade Snapchat lens.
Reed is a creative technologist at the agency Redpepper in Nashville. Looking at his bio, it feels that Reed was destined to make this filter: “I grew up listening to Def Leppard and Eazy-E, longing to be a fighter pilot. He once told his 3rd grade teacher he found a new way to do subtraction. She said, ‘No, you can’t do it that way,’ so he walked out of class never to return. From that point forward Matt questioned everything. He knew he loved his NES and rolled deep on a GEOS powered 286 and later a 386 blazin’ hazin the WWWs via the Prodigy.” Sounds like the right mix to stick it to the man!
Bound to happen
I spoke to Reed over Linkedin, the only known metaverse worse than Zuck’s metaverse, and he told me that his Snapchat lens is growing in popularity but hasn’t exploded yet. “A buddy of mine said he was too disturbed by the preview to try it,” he adds.
Reed believes that this entire fiasco was “absolutely hilarious—not in a ‘make fun of Meta’ way but in ‘a this is what the internet was made for’ way.” In fact, he offers an enticing conspiracy theory, that perhaps Meta released the screenshot just for the meme.
“I mean, whoever mocked that up knew what they were doing, so I now have questions about what’s going on in that design department,” says Reed.
Reed suspects that maybe “there is an evil genius [at Meta] making meme-fodder knowing full well what they’re doing.” If bad publicity is still better than no publicity at all, he points out, then that person should be promoted. He makes a pretty convincing point, but then again, my instinct is that Meta is just extremely tone-deaf and not nearly self-aware enough to embrace that strategy. Judging by Zuckerberg’s initial response to the outcry—”I know the photo I posted earlier this week was pretty basic—it was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch”—it feels that they did this in earnest.
Reed has obviously been skeptical about any Meta-led metaverse. That said, Reed, like many of us, can’t bring himself to write off this potential future altogether. And while he’s certainly razzing Zuckerberg with his parody lens, Reed points out that many of Meta’s own critics really know what they want from a metaverse anyway.
“Do I want a photorealistic Zuck?” Reed asks. “Have you ever seen that Tumblr with the close ups of celebrity faces? It’s weird and I don’t want that.”
For now, Reed has no plans to build an Instagram filter version of HoriZuck—which he originally wanted to call “Zuck Yourself,” but didn’t out of fear that Snapchat might block it. If you have any interest in Zucking yourself, download the lens here or can the Snapcode above.