If you stumbled upon a little Web site known as Facebook last week, you may have observed a sudden boost in the attractiveness of many of your friends. Perhaps their smiles really did miraculously straighten and their features realigned to perfect proportion, but more than likely, your friends just changed their profile pictures to doppelgangers.
Doppelgangers, German for “ghostly look-alikes,” were honored on Facebook last week for no particular reason. Despite their lack of purpose, I still spent a large chunk of my week stalking, critiquing and laughing at people’s look-alikes. You would think in our highly individualistic society, the thought of being compared to another would repel the majority of the American population, but the Facebook frenzy seems to beg otherwise.
What, then, is the cause of this doppleganger delusion?
It seems logical to turn to the obvious beauty of the ghostly look-alikes. In my lifetime, I have been compared to such greats as Deb – the girl with the side ponytail from Napoleon Dynamite – and that kid from the ’90s sitcom, Third Rock from the Sun (yes, he is a boy, and I am a girl).
Despite such attractive choices, I instead selected Alexis Bledel – popularly known as Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls – as my Facebook doppleganger. I have to admit Bledel and I share little more than similar haircuts, and yet, I choose her in vain hope that her radiance would rub off on me.
This is the true beauty of the doppleganger. By choosing to compare ourselves to someone with whom we might only share one similar characteristic, we are distinguished from our fellow man by some great appeal. Resembling someone else, oddly, makes us feel superiorly unique – or uniquely superior.
If individualism truly is the draw of Facebook dopplegangers, perhaps the next question is why we feel the need for such distinctions. Must we always be prettier, smarter or better than others? Alexis Bledel is great, but she is not me. And I prefer my friends to Jennifer Garner, Selena Gomez and Brad Pitt because no matter how much they might resemble this cast of characters, they are not celebrities, nor do I want them to be.
Think about it, and I’m convinced you’ll agree with me: Being unique based on your own characteristics is better than the copycat version. Doppleganger is a fun word to say, but I’m content to go without one. Adios, Rory Gilmore.