By in Pictures

How Important is an Online Friend's Avatar in the Way You Perceive Him or Her?

When I have known people on one site, such as myLot, Gather, or even Persona Paper, I have had a tendency to incorporate their into my concept of who they are. Then, when I see them on Facebook or Tsu or somewhere else where they post a real photo of themselves, I sometimes need to adjust my thinking. I had so associated them with their avatars, that’s who they seemed to me. So seeing what they really looked like kind of jarred me.

It’s been the same sort of feeling as that I’ve had when people change their avatars. I remember one person in particular you might know. When I first came across her on myLot her avatar was one of strength. Then she disappeared for a while on the site. When she returned, her avatar was a human child, not a cartoon figure. And my mental picture of who she was changed with the avatar. She still uses that avatar n at least one site.

Although I hid my identity behind a pseudonym on myLot, I’ve never had any avatar but my own photo on a content writing site. I just used a different version of it on myLot than on most other pages. My writing voice stays pretty much the same from site to site, too. If you know me here, you will know the same me as you have on Persona Paper, Squidoo, HubPages, Wizzley, Zujava, Gather, or myLot. I just may be writing under a different name.

As to your avatar, if you change it, why do you change it? Is it because you have changed or because you want people to think of you differently? Are you trying to remake yourself in the minds of others or have a different persona on a new site?

When you see an avatar, do you think of the person it represents as that avatar and feel a sort of jolt when you see an actual photo? My curious mind wonders.

B. Radisavljevic, ©2014 All Rights Reserved

Originally published on Bubblews in 2013.

Image Credit » My husband took the picture at my request and I have permission to use it.

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bestwriter wrote on December 9, 2014, 9:54 PM

My avatars have nothing to do with my personality but just uploading images of which I have a huge collection. I judge a user by the way they respond/comment/post. This activity does throw some light on one's personality.

inertia4 wrote on December 9, 2014, 9:55 PM

&BardRad I get what you're saying. I think we all tend to imagine what someone looks like and we do get used to seeing there avatar. I think people change them because they get tired of them. I have not actually used a real picture of me when I was on MyLot or even here. I have actually changed it over at Bubblews and I now have a real picture. Not a good one though. I like my logo of INERTIA4. But as you, I am the same person no matter where I write.

slexy143 wrote on December 9, 2014, 10:43 PM

am with what bestwriter said. I sometimes come in contact with a picture I like and then I upload it as my avatar, nothing more nothing less

AngelSharum wrote on December 9, 2014, 10:59 PM

I like seeing what people pick for avatars. I won't become friends with someone if they have a dirty/pornographic avatar, but otherwise it doesn't affect my initial connection.

motrojam wrote on December 9, 2014, 11:00 PM

Like you, I often use a photo of myself as an avatar in the writing sites where I am involved in. I somewhat agree that the way we percieve persons is sometimes associated to what their avatars are.

bestwriter wrote on December 9, 2014, 11:15 PM

This may be a virtual world but by and large what we post here does tell us what we are atleast to some extent.

Feisty56 wrote on December 9, 2014, 11:50 PM

I've never been one to enjoy having my picture taken or enjoy displaying it, so for some time I chose a photo of a beloved dog companion. I changed to my actual photo for what I saw as the sake of professionalism and authenticity. I do make some association with the person behind the avatar or photo, but for the most part also "fill in the blanks" with a person's posts/articles and comments. There have been a few occasions where I've been taken aback by an avatar and really had to push myself to read things written by that person before deciding whether to follow or not.

The Internet is a visual medium. Some of us are more affected by the photos/avatars than others. There is no right or wrong way to be; it's an individual thing.

crowntower wrote on December 10, 2014, 1:59 AM

your name in the mylot seems familiar to me, but it is from long time ago I might be mistaken. In my perspective I draw them on how they write, on how they views the world, or how immature they are in their complaint in the sites... Lol! but that is how I picture them. God bless.

scheng1 wrote on December 10, 2014, 7:48 AM

I do not let avatar influence my opinion of anyone. I will try to understand the ideas and the emotions behind their content.

nbaquero wrote on December 10, 2014, 11:34 AM

BarbRad The avatar gives a first impression but usually one has time to learn the person through the interaction and activity on a community like this, that is more important than the Avatar in my opinion, but you are right a savyy and experienced person can infer a lot of the person's traits from the avatar.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 10, 2014, 12:43 PM

I've never been comfortable with pictures of myself. I did use one on Yahoo, but everywhere else I've use the photo of the dirt lane at Berkeley Plantation because it represents my user name and the theme of my original blog that the name came from.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 10, 2014, 12:46 PM

I forgot to add that I use the same photo even when the account is under my real name such as Twitter and Google+. I change things around on Facebook, but usually use something besides me.

Scorpie wrote on December 10, 2014, 2:36 PM

I use different avatars in each place and all convey the same message of irreverence. I guess the human mind is just a souped-up pattern matching machince so we can't help but create association with images.

LoudMan wrote on December 10, 2014, 2:51 PM

I'm much more curious about the story behind the usernames.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:38 AM

It's true that posting reveals the most a bout us, but sometimes people chose an avatar that they feel symbolizes something about them, or that hides who they really are.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:39 AM

I normally just upload a photo. But even what you like says something about you. Someone who hates cats is unlikely to upload a cat avatar.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:41 AM

I don't choose to connect on the basis of an avatar, but when someone has used the same avatar for a couple of years and then changes it, it confuses me when I look for them on line.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:41 AM

Glad I'm not the only one.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:44 AM

The internet is visual and our avatar, whether a photo of ourselves or something else does become associated with us. It really throws me when a Twitter friend changes a distinctive avatar to a photo or a different style. I'm used to going down the feed looking for their avatar.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:45 AM

I didn't use the same name on myLot that I used in other places.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:46 AM

I don't make value judgments based on avatars. i just wonder why people choose the ones they do.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:47 AM

I think some people do choose avatars that say something about what they'd like to be or what they like.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:49 AM

So your avatar illustrates your pseudonym. I think it also says something about what you value.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:50 AM

Right. I do associate people with the images they put up to represent themselves.

BarbRad wrote on December 11, 2014, 12:51 AM

That is also interesting. Have you explained yours? My memory is pretty bad while I'm under the influence of my post-surgery drugs.

nbaquero wrote on December 11, 2014, 7:28 AM

LoudMan you are right, the reason for a particular username is sometimes more interesting than the avatar.

LoudMan wrote on December 11, 2014, 11:38 AM

In time, yes, I will.

LoudMan wrote on December 11, 2014, 11:39 AM

Some of them just pique the curiosity. :)

BarbRad wrote on December 12, 2014, 12:09 AM

I have found your writing style pretty consistent.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 12, 2014, 1:36 AM

Hmm. Dirt roads and trees. Sounds about right.

inertia4 wrote on December 13, 2014, 1:12 PM

I don't see the need in changing who I am. So I should always be consistent. You are great at writing. I think your posts are very well thought out and sincere.

BarbRad wrote on December 14, 2014, 4:32 PM

Thanks, Steven.

rana199426 wrote on December 17, 2014, 5:26 PM

mmm what's is gather? is it a site like PP?

BarbRad wrote on December 18, 2014, 2:08 AM

It used to be a site where people shared their writing and photos and talked to each other and became friends. It combined social networking and sharing content and it had groups who posted things of common interest to those groups. Many of the people I knew at Gather are now at Bubblews and some are also here how. Gather used to give us points we could earn with our content, but it was bought out and shut down for many months. When it came back it was very different. Many of us still miss it. Those who miss it most have a group at Facebook where they continue to communicate.

Porcospino wrote on December 19, 2014, 3:03 PM

My avatar is a photo of one of my paintings. I often use my art instead of photo of myself. I have become Facebook friends with some of friends from myLot and the first time I saw their photos on Facebook it was a bit funny, because I used to recognize them by their avatars and I didn't know what they actually looked like. It is nice to see the photos of people that I have known online for a long time.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 3:29 AM

Dirt roads, trees, and space are wonderful, except when it rains a lot.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 3:30 AM

Some of them still don't use their real photos. Some them don't use the same names, either, like me, so we don't even know if we knew each other there.

Gina145 wrote on January 16, 2015, 7:10 PM

I use the same photo on most sites, though I've used different ones on a couple of forums I belong to. I don't even have a proper photo of my face on Facebook. I just don't like to be in front of a camera.

Deema wrote on January 18, 2015, 12:48 PM

I feel the same. That is why i prefer putting up a picture of myself.

BarbRad wrote on January 20, 2015, 1:40 AM

It looks like you prefer to be behind one, LOL.

BarbRad wrote on January 20, 2015, 1:41 AM

I always like seeing a face so I can learn to recognize someone -- even if it's not their real photo.

Gina145 wrote on January 20, 2015, 4:33 AM

Yes, I spend quite a lot of time behind one, though not as much as I should.