No, this isn’t about the movie, just thought I’d copy the name. Hands up who knows what an avatar is. OK, you didn’t really have to put your hand up. There will be some who don’t know what an avatar is. Which is ironic because if you are reading this on social media you already have one. You may not have realised it. Let’s use The Cambridge dictionary definition:
“An image that represents you in online games, chat rooms etc…” That picture at the top of social media is your avatar.
I like that definition, there are more and fuller ones. Very few avatars are actual true to life photographs of the person. Mine is of course 100% the way I look, rugged good looks and all. What most people do is to create a representation of themselves on their Social Media. But even if you post a photo, it is a staged or your best photo. We choose one that shows us as we want to be seen. Pouting, staring manfully into the distance, smiling, smouldering, eyebrows raised, shoulders back chest out, wistful, wise, you get the picture; no, you are the picture.
What’s the harm in that, you say? Nothing, but it does mean that for anyone we have not met in person, only online, will have a view of us based only upon our avatar.
Let me paint two pictures:
1/ The date: You start to get to know someone online. You like how they look; or at least their avatar, and you get on with them. All your chats are in tune with each other. You like the same music, films, places, activities, this is a perfect match. So you plan to meet. Arriving at the pub you both look around for each other. No need for roses in button holes, or any of that old fashioned nonsense. This is 2023, you know what each other looks like. She is beautiful, he is a hunk. Twenty minutes go by, you pass each other several times; even bump into each other. The average looking girl and the guy with a paunch. You both end up at the bar asking different bar staff if anyone has been asking for you. Overhearing each other you look across in shock. How can these faces, these bodies have been made to look so good. You both glance at you phones, the avatars, turn them around to show the other, then burst out laughing. You are the same people after all.
2/ The disguise: there are many people who don’t like the idea of putting a photo of themselves up as an avatar at all. They use all sorts of alternatives. Cartoons, photos of their children, photos of pets, photos of animals, famous people, quotes, or they do put a photo of themselves as a child or a young adult. Not everyone wants to advertise what they look like to the world. After all, not everyone can take the adulation and praise that some of us get on a daily basis. Wait a minute, did I mean adulation and praise? Not everyone has aged as well as me… I wish. Obviously, I do understand the real reasons people chose other avatars. Everyone has a right to their anonymity. Many people are shy of their image. Plus, some of the cartoons and pictures people choose are great fun. I have often thought of changing mine to a cartoon.
I am sure there was also a serious point that I had. Oh yes, disability and illness. It’s a big reason that people use alternate avatars. I understand, being visible as you are when you feel others may judge you, is hard. Having family and friends see you so changed is never easy. You may just not feel up to having a photo. Who am I to make any suggestions here. We all make our own choices. For myself I probably hit a mid point with my avatar. It is a photo of me in my wheelchair, but it is not too recent. I wear a hat to hide part of my face and the fact someone has stolen my hair… oh yes that age, not illness. I wear a bright coloured coat to distract the eye. I am smiling, that is a choice. Does that sound like an odd comment? If you have ever been long term ill and in serious pain, you will understand. You see, I am aware of my own attempts to hide. Put on a brave face to the world. Avatars are the masks we wear and yet they still say something about us.
Well I am off to change my avatar to one of superman, make it more accurate.
Please like and share my blog