Proper Facebook Etiquette

#701 Being in the picture

Thursday 13th November, 2008

There is nothing I dread more than getting my photograph taken. Are my friends right to insist I have a Facebook picture, or can I remain mysterious and aloof?

It is the production of social knowledge that clinches Facebook’s appeal and makes its counterparts seem less personal or individual – So you have a MySpace profile? *yawn*.

Not having an identifiable Profile image on Facebook is a cause of concern for your friends, and probably a reflection of their own sentiments and social preferences rather than your own. On the one hand you could make the case that you are not following the mainstream and appear only in the ‘original’ for in-person Pokes – you also retain a ‘mysteriousness’. However, take care to heed that you may be missing out on potential passing Facebook recognition should searching friends disregard your Profile because it appears as ‘dated’ or ‘unfinished’ – without a Profile picture you may be surprised to learn that the response can be a off-handed ‘meh’ to a ‘if they can’t be bothered to show themselves, then I can’t be bothered to contact them!’ assertion.

One could meet such insisting friends halfway with a captured image ‘artistically’ reconfigured so that it represents you, but you do not feel as uncomfortable as an equivalent passport shot could induce. Think of Andy Warhol’s famous (and now mass-produced) Marilyn Monroe series of shots. Something that is easy to recreate in the world of photoshop, iphoto and various other social media applications.

Otherwise, call your friends bluff take a shot of your best ‘side’ or ‘part’ – perhaps a hand or foot and have that as your Profile picture. Then point out their snobbishness should there be any criticism of your new venture into photography and a more artistic Facebook presence. I would draw the line at shock tatics of nakedness though.

More interesting is why an image is considered so important on Facebook. With a named account you are identifiable, but without a picture somehow you fade into the background as this is not considered going far enough to authenticate your identity.

The message; without an image you are only ever half a person on Facebook. Thus, to be seen as ‘whole again’ it seems reasonable to meet your friends demands – but only if they share a suitably unflattering or personal image with you or I would call the whole thing off.

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