Profile Pictures, 2 Unusual Men and Something About Writers

I am, at heart, a muser of musings. Some of these thoughts eventually become full-fledged blog posts. Others (the semi-fledged ones) are just short little guys; fun, but not substantial enough to stand alone. From time to time I’ll gather a few of these together and post them for your amusement. Welcome, then, to the first in my Miscellaneous Musings series.  

People and Their Profile Pictures

Okay, I’m just gonna say this: I’ve noticed recently, upon meeting a number of people I had hitherto only known online, that all too often I have found a significant disparity between profile photo and actual appearance. So much so that afterwards I’ve felt compelled to go back and reexamine their headshots just to make sure they are in fact the same people. Closer inspection revealed that no one had actually just substituted a model’s photograph in place of their own, but clearly their online selves were almost unrecognizably slimmer, younger, happier and more stylish.

This raises a couple of questions for me. First of all, am I the only one who’s noticed this e-image/real-life appearance dichotomy? Or have I just been late in figuring out what everyone else has known for ages, but has remained silent about in order to allow the charade to continue for the online benefit of all?

And second, how do people pull this off? Do they doctor their photos? Or do they just use ten year old images? I mean, I guess you want to make a good impression online . . .  But then again, do you really want folks to be immediately disappointed once they actually meet you in person? I suppose if you just make sure that never happens, you’re good. It’s worth staying locked in your house, right?


A sampling of profile photographs. Some have been subtly Photoshopped; others clearly not. Interestingly, the two on the left are of the same person. Unsure about the next two.






In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to take this opportunity to let you all know that I also look nothing like my profile picture. Tragically, in person I am often mistaken for George Clooney.


People and Their Profile Pictures II

The exception to the looking-worse-in-real-life thing? Young ladies who take ridiculous “sexy” pictures with kissy lips and bedroom eyes and their head at an odd angle. They actually look better (translation: sort of normal) in person because no one can possibly walk around like that 24-7. Although, wouldn’t that be hilarious if they did? It would be like a sort of sexy-zombie apocalypse. Or apocalips.

What I Noticed at Breakfast

I was in Edmonton to speak at a teachers’ conference, and was eating breakfast at a downtown food court. As I was running through my presentation one last time, a middle-aged man approached. He stood out sharply from the rest of the people who milled about, or sat gazing at their devices with their morning lattes. They were mostly smartly dressed, or at least casually trendy, whereas he wore a black, ankle-length cowboy duster coat that was—to say the least—atypical downtown-big-city attire. His hair was white and shaggy, as was his beard. He sat down at the table directly in front of me and immediately began to speak. Because he faced me and there was no one else in the immediate vicinity, I wondered whether he might be talking to me. He spoke quickly and somewhat softly—loud enough for me to hear some of what he was saying, but too quiet for cross-table conversation. He wasn’t making eye contact, so I guessed that he was talking to himself. After a minute or two of this, though, he began to steal the occasional glance in my direction and pause as if waiting for me to respond. I was eventually able to discern that he was asking for some money for coffee. I didn’t have any cash, but I bought him a cup. He took it and mumbled something in response, then sat down and continued to mutter. It appeared now that he was content to do this entirely on his own, so I carried on with my presentation prep.

That is, until I was distracted by another middle-aged man who approached from the same direction as the first. No long dark coat, but rather a dated, ill-fitting tweed jacket. Like my coffee friend, he too had unkempt grey hair and a long shaggy beard. Clearly an academic, I mused; probably a fellow convention speaker. He did not stop and sit, but rather continued on his merry way. Talking to himself. Not loudly enough that I was able to discern what he was saying . . .

It was time to go. As I packed up my things, I wondered whether either of these two men would be aware of how much they had in common.

Writers: An Observation

Speaking of physical appearance, have you ever been at a gathering of writers? Here’s what I’ve noticed: writers are either super cool, or . . .  not. In the latter category, you find women with long, frizzy, grey hair and balding middle-aged men in sweatpants.

And no, I do not wish to talk about how I’m dressed right now.