Author: Mark Renney

The ‘Visage Wipe’ was promoted as a grand project. The language the campaign used was both simplistic and pompous. It was claimed it would unite us and yet only those aged between fourteen and twenty-four were eligible. For anyone older, it had been decided it was too late and we couldn’t be saved.

The common place conceit and addiction were already too deeply entrenched, and we were caught in a self-obsessed spiral in pursuit of the perfect image, competing for attention on all social platforms, whilst our attention spans were close to zero.

Despite the campaign’s strident presence and the bombastic slogans, it hardly registered with us at first. We wondered if it was even possible to remove someone’s face and who would be foolish or desperate enough to allow themselves to be mutilated in such a way. No, we dismissed the campaign out of hand. It was just a joke, we thought. And then, suddenly, the faceless began to appear and we were shocked that so many young people had resorted to such extreme measures, simply to not be like us.

Of course, we had been correct. It wasn’t possible to remove a face, but the surgery did render them devoid of emotion. They were expressionless and nondescript, and they quickly adopted an attitude that matched their blank faces. They had no interest in us or our lives.

They began to dress alike, wearing dark, drab colours, hair cropped close to the skull. They unnerved us with their presence and, as the numbers swelled, their indifference towards us grew more palpable daily.

People of twenty-five and older started paying for the procedure, undergoing the surgery privately, and surreptitiously joining the faceless. As the years progressed, this became easier and easier to do, because of course, although the face remained the same, the body aged.

I am one of the minority and I often think about those early campaign slogans and how they proclaimed that it would unite us, and I now believe that eventually it will.