Profile Picture

If you’re reading this, chances are you have at least one online profile with a picture. Long before the dawn of Facebook, people have existed behind online profiles. I still remember back in the day before broadband, people would construct their profiles with just a few words (there were no pictures, because everyone was using dial-up and it would have taken f-o-r-e-v-e-r for the picture to download). But as internet connection speeds have increased, so did the need for profile pictures.

It was of great necessity that any kind of dating website should have your picture – not a picture of your pets, or a picture of your children, or of the rose garden that grows down the street from where you live. It required a picture of you, and what you currently look like today. Sadly, as the more savvy online dating internetors started taking advantage of the lesser savvy ones and would either post pictures of themselves from 10 years ago, or pictures of someone else they found online in hopes of snagging some unwary victim. It was the beginning of the process known as “catfishing.”

(The Facebook community may have made catfishing famous, but I really swear it was originally invented by the gay community!)

When it was found out that someone was using someone else’s picture, or one that was of themselves from many years ago, the alarms would go off, and emails would be sent about, and chat rooms would be set ablaze with indignation! Hours of chat-room time would be spent denouncing these internet heathens who couldn’t be honest enough to put up a picture of themself in their profiles, and they would be shunned like a leper from that particular room. (My God… we really didn’t have lives!)

But today’s internet is so much more different than years past. Facebook gave us a way to re-connect with people we’ve always known – the total opposite of the dating sites of the 80s and 90s where people were more interested in trolling the internet looking for action than catching up with someone they already knew. In the past, one could believe he was anonymous behind a profile he created; but today we know there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet. If you’re trying to meet someone through the Internet that you’ve never known before, then yes; there is an unwritten law of the community that you must put a current photo of yourself as your profile picture. Else, you’ll incur the ire of the world.

But today, there exists this argument even on Facebook against people posting pictures of their pets or children as their profile picture. I just can’t agree with this argument. Not for Facebook. And here’s the difference: With dating websites, you’re a stranger knocking on my door, and you need to see me when I open the door; with Facebook, we’ve known each other for years, and you’re sitting in my room looking at the pictures I have hanging on my wall while we talk.

We’re not talking about hiding behind a picture. If I’m not online trying to meet people who don’t know me, or trying to “hook up” on a dating website, the people who are connected to me (e.g., through Facebook) already know what I look like. So now the whole idea of a profile picture has changed. I no longer feel like I have to show you my face (Lord knows, you’ve probably seen enough of it in real life), but now I can express, through my profile picture, different facets of my personality.

Facebook has changed the old rules, but they do still exist for dating websites and websites like LinkedIn where you’re dealing mostly with people you’ve never met, requiring introductions of some sort. In those times I must agree with the multitudes: I don’t know you that well, and need to see who you really are – not your pets, and not your kids.

So when it comes to Facebook and any other site like it, bring it on! Change that profile picture of yours on a regular basis and let me see your face (from today, from last month, from last year, or even your baby pictures!). Then let me see your children. Let me see your pets. Let me see your equality sign, your beautiful yard, or your holy pictures that inspire you to be faithful. These are all part of what I love about you. And after all is said and done, these are all part of the reason why we’re already connected.