A blog about Cyberculture and ICTs.

You sexy thing

Posted by candacewhitehead on August 19, 2008

For some people, picking a profile picture is an art. I have a friend who goes through literally hundreds of photographs of himself going “Hmm, the light’s not right on this one,” or “I wish this had been shot at a different angle” or “Oh wow, look at how the shadows fall in this photograph – I really like the composition, though I wish the branch of the tree was just a little lower, it would just balance out the whole photograph”.

A self-proclaimed social media addict, “Ms Herr” claims that one’s avatar is “a tool, an iconographic representation of self, serving to frame perceptions of their unique identity”. Ultimately, your profile picture becomes a logo to the brand that is you, and every aspect of that photograph (or cartoon, or lolcat image or whatever) says something about yourself. I, for one, am infuriated by people putting up images not of themselves. People who put up silly cartoons of Homer Simpson or the South Park characters grate my carrot – and I won’t even get started on people putting up photographs of fashion models. YOU DO NOT LOOK LIKE THAT. Most likely.

I found this little gem which had me laughing out loud (and all the people in the computer labs started looking at me funny). One blogger looked at what your avatar says about you – and it’s nothing if not hilariously entertaining.

Online, you get one image to represent all the glamour that is you – just one. So why waste it on an image stolen off Google? There’s a lot of interesting writing – not all of it academic – looking at “avatar psychology” – which includes real photos of you, and things like Second Life avatars. Obviously everybody has a different theory, but Digital Natives claims that teenagers are happier with their carefully constructed avatars of themselves (on SL etc) than they are with actual photographs of themselves. For the first time, you have ultimate control of how the world views you. And as a teenager, as we all know, what the world thinks is everything.

A lot of employers now look at your Facebook profile –  which in itself is a whole other can of worms – and a profile picture of you licking chocolate off someone or chugging down a bottle of tequila is not going to earn you any brownie points. As I wrote in my last post – first impressions are everything, even online.

You need to think about what you want to achieve with your avatar. Putting up a photograph of you and your boyfriend in bed in your underwear because you think it’s cute is fine, but when it comes time to go on the job hunt or it comes time for performance reviews, maybe change it to something a little more sophisticated.


2 Responses to “You sexy thing”

  1. Ms. Herr said

    Hello Candace. Thank you for the reference.

    We’ve been having a lot of discussion locally about the importance of an avatar in personal branding, a topic that I’ve heard so much more about in the #phx web tech community than I ever did in my two years in Arizona State University’s MBA program. Three points always dominate the discussion: personal identity, authenticity, and transparency. I crowd sourced to my my avatar selection. The final image connected because it was ‘open and honest’. The photographer, Tyson Crosbie, continues to open up his avatar work for public contribution.

    It’s great to see this conversation happening across the webz.

  2. kelescheppers said

    hahaha. I think this is so true. I had a pic of my half-naked waist-up frame on Facebook as a profile pic. Those days are long gone, and I hope it stays that way. Unless you’re Tyra Banks, don’t torture the world with your (not so) hot looks.

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