5 May 2013

Why No Face?

I thought I might as well address a trivial question that has been asked to me more than a few times: 

Why do I use variations of the Facebook silhouette as my profile picture?

The most immediate reason is that I don't want to use my actual face. And why do I not want to use my actual face, even though there are photos online that have me in them that I'm tagged to? Of course this isn't merely just maintaining anonymity. I know I'm not completely anonymous mostly because of my ties on Facebook. 

Rather, it's firstly because I don't want EVERYONE who comes across my social media pages and other related sites to know what I look like so easily. I don't want to get so easily recognised by strangers on the street just because they've seen my profile and like what I put up online. At least let me accomplish greater achievements under the more public spotlight before I deserve that degree of recognition!

Secondly, I'm pretty aware of online witch hunts. If I do goof up really badly by putting up something so scandalous or outrageous online, at least I made it harder for angry users to get off their computers and scream at me in real life, or even physically harm me.

To sum it up, I don't want my real life to bleed in too much into my online life, or vice versa. Whatever happens online should stay online. Except when it gets so incredibly awesome it'd be stupid not to accept my online and offline fame.

Even then, why the variation of the Facebook silhouette? I could easily use an image of a fictional character I like, or a musical symbol to express my like for music, or a silly stick man drawing if I wanted, or even just not put a custom image at all. They also have the same effect, right? Well if you only consider the function of protecting my identity, then yes, that would be just as effective. But there's more to this than just anonymity.

So why the Facebook default picture? Why not use those from the other social media sites like Google+ or Twitter? Frankly I just think that Facebook's rendition of the human silhouette looks the cleanest and most generic. Also, Twitter's one isn't human. It's an egg. Well it used to be a bird, but that's still not human.

Now... why add my own twists to the Facebook silhouette? Why not just leave it as it is, and use that for my other profiles? Well... the short answer is that it's not just a profile picture, but also a canvas.

Using the silhouette as it is means that I want to show myself as a human male who frequents the Internet, prefers online pseudonymity to public identity, happens to know about Facebook, and isn't too incredibly unique from the others. But that doesn't make it personal, right? 

That's why I fool around with the silhouette a bit, mostly in photo-editing software whose name I won't bother to mention because I don't want to be seen as promoting it. At first they were minor tweaks like changing colours here and there, adding tiny extra little things... but it seems I've gone bigger and went into more abstract things. I don't just fix it to suit the occasion, e.g. around a particular holiday period, but I also experiment and try out ideas that just float to mind. This way I get to express certain inner emotions and thoughts, without giving away too much about my real person.

Finally, why not just design my own silhouette or character then? That way I won't have to be tied down by the association with Facebook, like I'm one of their unofficial ambassadors. And I won't have to run into problems with accidentally violating some trademark laws or something.

And that is a valid question. I am actually considering of moving on to that stage at some point in time. I don't know when, or even if I'll do it though. I've tried drawing my own silhouette but it always led to sucky results. And I doubt I could draw a proper believable face. Perhaps the only way is to heavily modify an actual picture of a face. 

So there. That answers this not-really-that-frequently asked question. Though maybe I will move on to the next phase of my pseudonymity in the near future...