“A picture’s worth a thousands words but they don’t tell the whole story.”-Jennifer Brown

What’s in a profile picture? (I would continue this cheesy Shakespeare quote, but I’ll leave that to the Bard himself). Lately, I have been curious about the idea of a profile picture and how important it is for your Facebook profile– How important would it be for a nonprofit to have an attention getting profile picture? Who sees your profile picture? What does your profile picture say about you? That’s a lot of questions to start out a blog, but I am hoping to answer a least a few of them.

I did a little research and came across an article for the Washington Post that answered some of my questions and I thought I would compile main points and my analysis here:

A lot (if not most) of your impression online is dictated by your profile picture.

Scrolling through your timeline, what do you think the first thing that catches someones eye is? Probably mostly your content, but if you’re like me the next thing you will look at is the name attached to the post and the picture– and if the picture is intriguing enough, I might click on your profile. Taking this information into consideration, what does your profile picture say about you? Right now, my profile picture is a memory from a recent loss I experienced and though it may seem confusing to someone who doesn’t know me as well, I am risking my impression for the moment. My picture doesn’t show my face, and is very old, so if someone were to search for me online, it may be hard to decide if they are clicking on the real me. I think it is extremely important to look at what your profile picture is saying about you and who could potentially be clicking and seeing these pictures.  Who may be searching for you, and what might they be thinking?

“Young women who posted “sexy” images online were taken less seriously by their peers” (Dewey).

Lately, I have seen a lot of different profile pictures– a lot of risqué ones to be exact and this quote from the article stuck out to me. I think when spending time on social media it is important to remember what our parents always told us, that what goes on the internet stays on the internet and your profile picture is no different. When future employers Google your name, what would you wish for them to see?

My inner feminist also began to argue with this point. Yes, I agree that profile pictures should not be you scantily dressed by any means, but doesn’t it seem as if it is just women that are taken less serious by their pictures? So what then defines how men are taken less serious? (end of mini feminist rant)

Judging people has nothing to do with the internet

Dewey brings up this point later on in the article that although something like a profile picture can leave people feeling anxious and stressed out, the idea of judging people isn’t something that was born from the internet. So although it is important to be careful what you want people to see, it is also important to note that people are going to judge you no matter what. My profile picture before was a selfie with me and my cat, so to some maybe I am superficial (selfie) and a crazy cat lady (I probably am). Everyone is going to judge what they see.

Conclusions?

Your profile picture is important, especially if you have something to lose in the real world. It’s important to consider what people are seeing when they first log onto social media and the impression that your picture can leave, but it is also important to note that everyone is going to judge you no matter what– You could have a stock photo as a picture and someone would have something to say. That’s just the unfortunate truth. “…Ultimately, it’s not the internet that’s superficial” (Dewey) so perhaps the profile picture isn’t the thing that needs to be regulated. Perhaps we need to change our attitudes. For now, I’m thinking be careful what you post on the internet, because it isn’t easier to change people’s minds.

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