Your Mileage May Vary: Profile Pictures: This is NOT a Rant, I Just Have Something to Say….

There is something that…not irks me…but…maybe makes me sad. And that is profile pictures that are not profile pictures. What I mean, is not a picture of the person whose profile is being represented. Or more clearly, let’s say it’s a Facebook page. I am talking about when the profile picture is not a picture of that person.

Now before I go on one more word, let me say that I do understand that there are people who dare not or cannot use their real face. Maybe they are a writer of a type of fiction that they do not want certain people knowing they write such fiction. Maybe it could get them fired. Maybe it would cause family problems. Maybe there are religious reasons, specifically most people who practice their religion think there is something wrong with what they write (the writer obviously has a different opinion) and they just want/need to avoid the problems that would result if fellow congregationalists found out. Maybe it would be embarrassing for their children. Maybe it would endanger them!

For all of this, I understand totally. Plus a person can do whatever they want to with their Facebook/blog/website/Live Journal, etc. Who am I to dictate what they should or should not do? So I won’t! That said however….

1)            When I am zipping down my news feed (for instance) I will stop when I see the picture of someone I recognize and read the post. Remember these pictures are small, but I can recognize a face. Even if they change their profile picture on a regular basis. That is one my most important points and why I have it as number one.

If I am scrolling down and I catch a view of that writer I love, Helen Back, but I see—wow!—does she have chartreuse hair? I find I have to stop and read and see what is going on with Ms Back!

2)            If someone sends me a friend request, and I don’t see a face, I am always hesitant to accept that request. I connect with people. I don’t connect with initials, a kitten (or other animals, puppies, foxes, lamas, etc), a book cover where I can’t even see the title of the book, a slogan of some kind (that I can’t read when it is that small), a car, a sports logo, the faces of little children (probably the person’s children who I understand perfectly that they love and want to show off, but nonetheless), a dragon (as much as I love them) or other such things. And don’t even get me start on (yet) when it’s a picture of a celebrity! I connect with people. I recognize them. And if I don’t, that smile and those eyes looking at me connect to me and make me want to respond.

3)            As a writer trying to promote myself and my books, I’ve taken several classes on Social Media. From coast to coast they’ve all advised that a picture of the person with the social media is many times more likely to be paid attention to. People want to connect with people. They want to know that that writer they love to read (for instance) is a person. They like seeing a picture of what they had for dinner (believe it or not), if they went to see a movie, went on a vacation, got married…and they want to sympathize when they get a divorce, a friend or relative of theirs is sick or dying, the death of a pet, etc. They want to know their favorite writer (for instance) is REAL. And I understand this! I find I am tons more likely to buy an author’s new book if I think of them as someone I like and want to support through my dollars. I don’t want to support a picture of an elf, or someone pretending to be Chris Pine, or a racing car. Now I understand and know better…but it is instinctual. There is a news report about an earthquake or mudslides and people think, “Whoa!” Show a picture of people in plight because of these events, and volunteers flood in by the thousands to help. They want to help people, not mudslides.

4)            Even if I do not recognize the person at all, if I see a smile, I want to read what that person has to say.

5)            So then what is it with all these people who have a profile picture where they are frowning or glowering and looking off frame as if they are totally disinterested? If I see that, then I do not stop because I don’t want to get depressed. And if the person looks depressed, then chances are this is one of those people that post nothing but doom and gloom or rant about Trump, Weinstein, or a rant about something I can’t do anything to help make better. Not Interested! I don’t want to know bad stuff. People have the right to talk about whatever they want to talk about, but I’m not going to read it. And if the profile looks like they’re disinterested, then I am not interested either. If the person is too cool for school, then they are likely too cool for me.

6)            I really get pissed if I see a profile picture of some hawt looking man and click on it (I am gay and sometimes do think with my nether regions), and it turns out to be a porn model, but the person is not that porn model, I’ve been known to block them. The only way I want to connect with a porn model is…well, never mind.

Now again, I understand that some people cannot use their real face. I get that. Which is why I like those little cartoon pictures that vaguely resemble someone (or reflects who they want to be). I can connect with that! Growing up with cartoon, and for my entire youth thinking of Scooby Do and Bugs Bunny and Bambi as real, I’ve been programmed to connect with a cartoon. But not a tarantula, a starfish, or a coffee cup. Sorry. (insert emoji of a frowny face)



And again let me repeat! I understand that some people have a need or reason or just plain preference to be private and I respect that totally!

But please, please, if you wonder why almost no one reads or comments on your Facebook/Live Journal/Blog post, keep in mind that many, many people feel the same way—but don’t even realize it. What I mean is that we are DNA programmed to respond to eyes and smiles, and not flaming skulls or initials, or road signs.

I am however likely to stop and at hot male chest or two men kissing. What can I say. Just a red-blooded, often horny, American gay man….

BG “Ben” Thomas


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