Our editor, Darren has just recently updated his profile picture to a photo that’s been taken for the magazine. It’s a really well-styled photo and looks very editory – as it should. This got me thinking about the photos we upload to Facebook and choose to share with the world. In particular, I started thinking about the profile pictures we use to represent ourselves and our personalities in this very public domain.
We don’t give a second thought to sharing with the world our very private moments with friends and family. It’s not like we’d willy-nilly put up photos of ourselves drinking with friends in a Jacuzzi on street poles or on bulletin boards at shopping malls. But we happily click away and slap them up on Facebook without a second thought. Maybe that’s because we get to select, very carefully, what we share with the rest of the world (usually and, if not, we can threaten to unfriend those who won’t remove the less-than-generous photos) – we can choose the persona we allow others to see. In fact, we can create the person we’d like others to believe we are.
And then there are the photos we have where we woke up in the morning feeling, and looking, a lot like P. Diddy – these are the pictures we don’t want others to see, and we don’t subject the universe to them via the Internet, for fear of malevolent reprisal. Such photos look somewhat like these:
In some Native American cultures, people were wary of having their photos taken because they believed the process could steal their soul and that it disrespected the spirit world. I totally get that. Some photos that have been taken of me look like my soul has been stolen and that the spirit world, disrespected by me, is taking revenge.
So are the photos we put up on Facebook glamorous glimpses of who we’d like to be, as my Mister so eloquently put it? Do these profile pictures represent an aspirational us? And if so aren’t we misrepresenting ourselves to the world? I think of all my old school friends and acquaintances with who I’m now Facebook friends: are they actually the well-groomed, poised and beautiful specimens of humanity they purport to be, or do they in reality have faces like dropped pies?
Are we at risk of setting ourselves and others up for disappointment as we’ve come to expect and believe that this is what we look and behave like? My Mister’s Facebook pictures (mis)represent him as a wild party-animal, probably not dissimilar to how he was when he was 21 (a good couple of years ago). In fact, now he likes nothing more than to share a good bottle of Cab Sav with some friends around a braai. He’s not the beer-chugging, tequila-swilling wild man the photos make him look like (despite what his mother thinks).
I had a look at the Facebook profiles of some my colleagues and came to the conclusion that their profile pics are a good representation of them … on a good day. Just like mine is a great representation of what a mediocre picture can look like with some great Instagraming thrown in.
To see what the Essentials team looks like when we’re normal have a look at our website: http://bit.ly/ZvEXHs
Is your Facebook profile picture and accurate representation of who you are? Or does it represent a person you wish you could be all the time?