Thursday, March 25, 2010

OMG, I've joined them now.

Perhaps you have too.  Maybe you're smiling smugly and saying "I knew it would be just a matter of time."  I might receive some weird email 'secret handshakes' of recognition from some of you for having crossed the line.

For I have joined Facebook.

And as if on cue, like an omen, this happened immediately after.  Incoming!

Great view of the helipad from my respite bunker, eh?

Look, I had a good reason, OK?  Personally, I don't have any time for competitive 'friending' and although I admit to occasional vague curiosity (mainly when the subject of Facebook tragedies comes up in conversation) about old school friends and the like, I shan't be going down this path.  What happened was that a close friend announced they were quietly running a photo gallery experiment of their (very rare, exquisite and hard-to-find) artwork via a Facebook page and invited me to take a look.  Bastard.  You have to 'sign up,' don't you?  I had successfully resisted all this time, but now, finally, the medium may have grown to a point where there's something good in it for me too.

But I'll tell you what,  I did make a few interesting observations, on the subjects of social network self-promotion and picture avatars.

With regards the former, it amazes me that without filling out a single pixel of any profile form that immediately I joined Facebook had a list of 20 or 30 people who I 'might like to be friends with'.  Sure, most were already friends on the site I had joined to 'friend up with' but others, well, wtf?  Yes, I know some of them at least.  I admit I've not investigated too closely but maybe there's some function where you can upload your email address book or something and when someone with an address in it pops in your avatar is sent to them.  I don't know, but it's instructive to me the lengths the Facebook folks go to make every part of their site methods and architecture all pull towards the one goal; to have their members as befriended - and thus captured - as is humanly (or inhumanly) possible.  I'm sure some of those folks suggested as 'friends' were just randoms.

So, with signing up you more or less have to upload or link a picture for your avatar.  For those unfamiliar with the term beyond the recent movie title, an avatar in this context is a picture icon that represents you, which will appear beside your name, your posts, everything you do on that site.

Maybe you are one of this tribe.  Maybe you are a regular on another site that uses such avatary things.  If so, have you given much thought to how and why people choose their avatars?  How did you decide on yours?  Do you judge people you don't know by their avatars, and conversely, do you have new impressions about those you do know when you see their avatars?  It's like having a whole new face.

I am not my illness, but my illness is part of me.  Anyone who's known me for some time will acknowledge my leaning towards vanity in most of my adult life - which is strange I suppose because I've never really been an oil painting, but there you have it.  Maybe it's just a Sagittarian Rooster thing, either or both. 

The combination is probably a bit deadly in this way.  As my illness has made me look less and less normal, and has certainly not improved my look at all beyond erasing all my wrinkles, I have had to go backwards through the vanity journey.  I'm OK with it now, and I don't hide at all.  I still dress a bit loud and am not shy about enpublicing myself.  So my decision not to use my own head as an avatar is not due to this.

Fact is, I don't think I'd ever have chosen to use a picture of myself, beautiful or not.  Please note the tiny and distant shot I use here on this blog.  True, I admit my vain streak prevented me from enjoying (instead tending towards criticizing) photos of myself, but really I think it's a different set of reasons altogether that shaped my choice.

1) I do prefer to be a little different at least in mundane things, true.  And virtually everyone uses their heads; creatively, boringly, or otherwise.

2)  I don't even have a decent shot of my head to use on my computer, so really that was a no-brainer.

3) I was feeling a bit 'just-get-on-with-it' when signing up to Facebook to get past the slightly unpalatable taste of docking with this particular tentacle of the hive mind, and wanted to just use something quick and easy...

4) ...and suddenly remembered I had this shot from somewhere:

So, Facebook fans, this is me.

Oh, and btw - I may be a twit from time to time, but I don't think I ever will.  Twit, or tweet, that is.


  1. Yay! Welcome to facebook! I'm gonna go look for you now! :)

    By the way, I think they pull email addresses from the email account you use to find friends. Then they pull friends of theirs to suggest to you.

    Also, p2g has a page as does the blenderized diet group if you're interested.;) See you on facebook!! :)

  2. Er, good luck with that...:-)

  3. Do you think the fellows in your 'av' mind being on Facebook?
    Many people in the world think that photographs can capture your 'essence' to a degree. What do you think about photos in the public domain?

  4. Good questions. I found these charming guys already deep in the public domain, so I've no idea of the provenance of the original image. In case I wasn't clear (and let's face it, I'm often not) I have no issue with pictures of people in the public domain unless of course the subject has an issue with it. In Australia we regularly have warnings prior to news stories on TV for Indigenous viewers saying that the following story contains images of a deceased person. Not all Indigenous societies have the same taboos and customs, but many do, so fair enough. I just choose not to use my head for the reasons stated and because I don't want to have to look at it all the time either. And so many 'home head shots', while wondrously unique as we all are, seem to me in the end too sameish for my aesthetic. That's all. We will all, regardless of cultural sensitivities, have to get used to our images being uncontrollably everywhere, potentially. An image is information. And information wants to be free.