October 22, 2013, 3:11 PM — Is your profile pic helping or hurting you? That tiny 48-by-48 pixels photo (for Twitter in stream, other social networks vary) might say a lot more about you than you think.
For example, one of my Twitter followers uses a profile picture that's entirely of his chest. A very hairy, not-so-attractive chest. I'm not sure if there's any other way to interpret his personality and perspective other than "I'm a douchebag." (Sorry, Twitter friend. Otherwise, I really like you.)
Lest you think I'm just being judgemental and criticising for no good reason, think about this experience: You're catching up on your social media feeds and see logo, logo, face belonging to someone you like, logo, a friend's face...then ugly chest hair. The more the profile picture shows up, the more jarring and aggravating it becomes.
It's not just chest hair. I appreciate the human body much as the next person, but I don't really enjoy seeing random body parts like elbows or even breasts busting out of shirts to assault my eyes. You can't unsee some things.
I really just wanted to write a post asking people to have some decency in their profile pictures, but after asking my internet friends what kinds of profile pics really annoy them found the problem is much wider and deeper than just photos of unclothed people.
So, please reconsider if your profile photo has one of these fatal flaws:
- You're not in it. Instead, it's a photo or drawing of someone else--your kid, some celebrity, a logo when you're a person and not a corporation, who the heck knows? It's not you, so it's super confusing. (Perhaps the most deceptive case, as Rand Wilson put it: "The young, sexy, beautiful, barely-dressed girl that looks nothing like the unibrow man who's profile it is.")
- You're in it but it's not easy to tell which person in the profile pic is you. Which of the five people in the minuscule photo is talking?
- It's an animated gif. Not just animated, but rapidly blinking with fluorescent shapes.
- You're making a mean, belligerent, or absurd face at the rest of us. A few people mentioned being very annoyed with the whole duck face meme, but I'm more concerned with the people giving me the evil eye (yes, me specifically).
I'm just kidding, mostly. You do what you want with your profile photo. Look pensive with chin in hand if you like, add a weird pink filter to your face, or use a creepy horse head mask. Just don't be surprised if people don't really "get you" on social media or maybe even unfriend you because you're sharing too much chest hair or look like a psycho killer.
For the perfect profile gaze, refer to this pretty funny video from Rhett & Link.
(Disclaimer: My profile photos aren't anything to write home about, I know, and I apologize if my mug offends you on your social feeds. I'm working on my duck face.)
Read more of Melanie Pinola’s Tech IT Out blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Melanie on Twitter at @melaniepinola. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.