If you are on any one of the many social networks, you most likely had to choose a primary profile image. On sites like Facebook or Fetlife, this image also serves as an avatar. An avatar is an image that follows you around on the site, showing up next to everything that you post and being your official first impression.
And that’s the problem, because people make some weird choices when choosing their avatars. The one we’re bitching about today is people who have more than one person in their avatar, especially when it’s not clear which of the people in the picture is the account owner. Or worse, their picture has only one person in it, and it isn’t them.
Who cares, right? It’s just a picture.
No, it’s more than that. Your avatar is the cover of your book, it’s your introduction, it’s the face you show the world.
If you want to make your avatar a symbol or a picture of your car or whatever, that’s fine. It’s still kind of weird, but at least people know that’s not you. And on site’s like Fetlife, you might be trying to preserve your privacy, and that’s fair. But you need to chose an image that is still reflective of you, that speaks to who you are.
When your avatar has other people in it, though, it causes confusion. It makes people uncomfortable. And that’s rude. It’s like if you are at a nice dinner and half way through you take your shirt off. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but it’s impolite. And it makes people dislike you.
Basically, this is what everyone else in the world is seeing when you post something to a group or respond to a friend’s status:
See, that’s weird. You think, “Wait, is Jessica just really ugly or is that the type of person she’s looking for, or… What’s going on here?”
But you might say, “Well, I’m not looking for new partners, I don’t have that problem.”
That’s fine, but you still comment and post, probably. In which case, you are still doing this.
Grrrr. Ok, is this the blond girl saying that or the other one? Because that will affect the response. Are you speaking from the experience of dating a blonde or from the experience of BEING one.
Then you go to the persons profile and see that the person identifies as a “49YO Male Dominant”
AAAAHHHHHHHHHH! Dammit, why?! So who the fuck are those two women?
OK, deep breath. I’m better.
Sometimes, people change their picture temporarily to that of someone else out of solidarity or protest or just to be funny. Fine, ok. But on most websites, when you change your avatar, it changes site-wide, not just on your profile. So suddenly that personal ad that you posted two months ago as a male seeking a female is accompanied by a photo of some gigantic breasts. Or how about that poignant, thoughtful response that you wrote in response to a friends traumatic experience. It now suddenly has a picture of a giant penis next to it.
The bottom line is that your avatar is your online face. And each day someone new could be looking at that face for the first time. What are you saying with it? What message are you sending? Are you losing the chance to meet a new friend or partner because of what you are displaying to the world? Are people focusing on figuring out who you are instead of listening to what you have to say or what you are trying to achieve?
Something to think about.