They say “A picture paints a thousand words”…which is arguably better than 140 characters? Or maybe not. I’m really not sure any more.
I had the rather strange experience this week of someone telling me I don’t look enough like my avatar. They were a little annoyed, I gather, that they couldn’t recognise me in a crowd based on their mental picture of what I ought to look like.
I have a few avatars, mind you, between personal and professional online personalities. Some are selfies, some are jokes. One is an actual professional headshot (arguably the one that looks the least like me ‘IRL’).
But the picture in question was the one that’s part of my blog header (see above). The hot looking girl rocking ‘library chic’, with a ‘come read to me’ look in her eye.
I’ve never actually made any claim to resembling that girl. But I suppose one could logically glean that it is supposed to be me … or some version of me.
So, I’ve changed my header today to make it clear that the image was always supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. She’s my more attractive bookish alter ego, perhaps; the could-be-me if it wasn’t for a few pesky kilos and grey hairs and eye bags that simply don’t look at home in a pop art cartoon.
She’s the librarian or secretary, a rookie journalist maybe, who shakes down her hair, puts her undies on the outside and saves the world. If you are juggling work with kids, or caring, or other responsibilities, you’ll be well versed in the notion of leading a double life!
So, I hope I’ve made that clear now.
But while we’re talking … why would anyone expect that I SHOULD look like my avatar?
Woman in ‘doesn’t look like cartoon’ shock!
THEY also say that “the camera never lies”. I’m not actually sure who THEY are, but, frankly, they’re full of it. The camera lies its lens off. Photos can be staged, doctored and filtered. They only ever represent a tiny portion of the “bigger picture” (something else THEY talk about from time to time).
“In this day and age” (there THEY go again) the filthy lying camera is at its duplicitous zenith. Some of my best friends deftly create beautiful untruths for a living. Even snap happy amateurs can fluke photographic magic in the right light, from the right angle … with no requirement to acknowledge any disasters taking place out of frame.
And then we have the democratization of graphic design. Much to the displeasure of trained graphic designers, everyone now thinks they can have a crack at creativity. Google a free image, muck around with some software and, hey presto, create the new Jan Brady – now share that bespectacled sucker!
We have the technology … and it helps us to create our personal brand. Remember when photos were a little out of focus, and brown around the edges? People you loved were missing their heads or wearing bad jumpers or looking at the photographer, rather than the camera? That’s my childhood, right there. But not so for my own kids. They’re going to think their childhood was ludicrously happy and action packed. They’ll look back to see clothing that (mostly) matches, in a life that was never blurry. Everyone in their personal flip books will have a head.
We are choosing which stories we want to tell, and how we want to tell them, in this way, every day.
Take a look at your friends’ profile pics – anyone hanging around early in the morning with bed hair? Anyone half asleep in front of Netflix with a tiny bit of drool glistening in the half light? Nope. They’re all on snowboards, holding adorable cherubs, or charging their glasses with a gaggle of A-list chums.
So, if you’re creating a logo or otherwise branding your blog, business or hobby, what are you going to choose? I COULD show you the worn-out looking freelancer who’s been up ’till midnight meeting a deadline before getting up to take the kids to school in her tracksuit pants? I’d RATHER show you the enigmatic librarian, with a uniform hair colour, for whom wild adventure is just around the corner.
Let’s face it, it’s what THEY would do.
So, if you haven’t met me in person, and you’re looking for me in a crowd, take a good look at the picture above – and then lower your expectations!
Do you look like your avatar? Are you fussy about your profile pictures?