Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Facebook and Mythologizing the Self

Hmmm. That might be a pretentious title, but it's the one I'm most satisfied with right now.

At any rate, what's great about social networking sites is that you get to create your own persona if you choose to invest in it. It can be particularly revealing considering what kind of profile picture a person selects for themselves. I've attempted to break down all the possible choices. Let me know if there's any I've missed:
  • At home
  • On holiday
  • At party
  • At fancy dress party
  • Studio photo
  • Childhood photo
  • With girlfriend/ boyfriend
  • With spouse
  • With buddy
  • With child/ grandchild
  • Something done to your face (e.g. Yearbook Yourself/ Cartoon avatar/ MorphThing)
  • A photo of something else (e.g. a painting they drew/ movie freeze frame/ funny picture)
  • Their pet
  • Their shadow (particularly popular amongst artists)
  • Picture of a celebrity/ cartoon character
  • 'In action' - e.g. at work
  • Their hands
  • Clowning around
For all the variety here, I think that the range of face expressions are fairly limited (although there is room for variation within these categories)
  • Smiling nicely
  • Sultry
  • Moody
  • Pulling a funny face
  • Engaged in something
I think that the persona people attempt to develop for themselves can fit into the following categories, and sometimes it's a combination:
  • I'm attractive
  • I'm mysterious
  • I'm unconventional
  • I'm unconventional even by unconventional standards
  • I'm wacky and don't care who knows it/ I don't take myself seriously
  • I'm creative
  • I play it straight
  • I'm one of the lads/ girls
  • I love my friends/ partner/ children
I've never seen "I'm hard" as a profile picture, but would imagine that's because I wouldn't befriend someone who would use that as their persona.

I think everything has pretty much been covered here. If you can think of any curve balls that I haven't spotted, let me know...

Saturday, 1 August 2009


The human face is a landscape that we never tire of. We are programmed to be on the constant look out for faces, even where there isn't one, or where it's a heavy abstraction of a real face.

As such, I'm hooked on the website called morphthing at the moment. If you could have told people 50 years ago that we would have the technology to blend faces together, I can only imagine their minds would have been blown. Well, my mind is blown and it continues to be. I can't believe we can do this.

The site is clearly aimed at teenagers, and is seen as a fairly frivolous thing. Maybe it is. I can imagine the "you've got too much time on your hands" response, or "it's all a bit silly really". I dunno. I just keep thinking it's amazing and taps into something fundamental about our perceptions.

No point hiding from the fact that I have an interest in my own face. As such, here's me with Whoopi Goldberg:

Mona Lisa:

Barack Obama:

This is me today with me when I was about 6:

Then there is other people who you can combine. This is Tupac and Tony Blair:

Tupac, Tony Blair and a Tiger:

Harry Potter and Hitler: (or Harry Pittler, if you will...)

Britney Spears and George Lucas:

It just goes on and on. Weird, androgynous people and splendid combinations. You can reconfigure your own face. Such giddy fun!