Would a rose smell as sweet …
Okay this isn’t about names, at least not entirely. As some of you reading this will know, I don’t go by my given name on some social media platforms, predominantly Facebook. I have taken a gender neutral name which for the most part seems to be taken as a male name. I KNOW RIGHT? Assuming my gender like that. Coupled with this, apparently my profile pictures cause some confusion.
So my attempt at a degree of anonymity on line does appear to be bearing some fruit? Well I signed up to Sarahah on a whim at the weekend and combined with my then profile picture (a cat), I picked an illustration a friend had completed earlier which I kinda liked.
I didn’t really get much interaction, even after talking to my friend about this, and further inspired by an anonymous comment made about never using my own picture as a profile (profile pictures tend to be set as public, reasoning is to make it easier to tell if you are stalking the right person) which is untrue. However, I used a festival makeup look selfie I had taken a couple of weeks ago that I was pleased with. I changed both my profile picture on FB and within the app.
Now I have mentioned my perceived ambiguity on social media previously and how it can lead to frustrating and upsetting interactions. In groups that I spend time in which are mixed gender, it is often assumed that I am male. Luckily the downright rude comments are kept to a minimum. I didn’t realise how much of a different changing a profile picture would have to my interactions.
This is small scale compared to experiments where men pretend to be women on social media etc etc but it just proves again that we are all dealing with people on how they present themselves. I was going to write a blog on Cat-Fishing (a term I am going to assume that you are all aware of) and how this makes me uncomfortable.
It is all linked in. I don’t tend to put up many makeup free/normal selfies of myself. I don’t encourage tagging in such photos either. So while I do argue that most of my profile pictures are of me, they are of a version of me, a better version of me. With good skin, great hair, looking like a drag queen, a fairy, a unicorn, mermaid… I won’t go on but you get the idea. So I guess because I do control what images of me go on social media, I am editing how people can perceive me. This is cat fishing to a degree, as much as I struggle against it.
I guess the problem here is that, there is no winning. Text lacks body language, and inflection and sound in order to be able to take cues from a person that one would normally expect when first meeting someone. So as much as I might struggle again using a ‘normal’ photo of me, my profile picture will be what most people use to base their initial and subsequent interactions on. That is if they don’t already know me outside the SM bubble, or if they do end up meeting me. The latter can be utterly terrifying, it is like you are being unmasked at the end of a Scooby cartoon.
Sex sells, pretty brings gazes, it is not news to anyone. When you are picking a profile picture how much effort do you put into it. Do you just pick the first selfie you have, do you pick something more meaningful, a memory, event, your pet, child. All the considerations or lack thereof will all have a bearing on how you are interacted with. In the same way they are generally. When you get dressed in the morning, no matter what your personal style is, you know that people you interact with will respond to it. So, it is no different in this context. I chose cover myself in a little anonymity on line, and that is fine. I have no problem with it. But now I have written this reflective account, it is interesting to see how much different just changing a profile picture can make your interactions.
Sorry if anyone was expecting a feminist rant 🙂 I am sure I can come up with one later!