5 Helpful Hints to Give Off the Right Impression Online; or, Post an Ugly Picture of Yourself on Facebook

I dare you to put up the ugly pictures of yourself on Facebook.  Or Instagram. Or…whatever you kids play with these days. The kind of pics that look like you have a double chin, some bags under your eyes or just appear like you had no idea someone was taking a picture and caught you mid-blink.

We all have them.

I would guess that out of the thousands of pictures (ok…maybe hundreds) taken of me in the last year, only 25 or so I deemed fit to put on a website; yet I have been unwantingly tagged on occasion–thus the uglies have snuck in.

See that picture of me on the top right? That was a good day. It made the cut. Even if you do not care for long hair or handlebar staches, I do. I feel comfortable in that skin. I like the impression that gives off.

facebook-places-logo-2In terms of places or events I attend, I rarely put this information out in cyberspace.  I will every so often, though I would prefer that people’s impression of me not include certain, uh, events. I have an image to maintain you know.

What is the message you are sending out to the world about yourself?  Back in the “day” that decision was largely predicated on our wardrobe and bodily decisions for real life encounters: What Impression-Managementstyle hair? Make up? Piercings?  Tattoos?  Fashion sense.  How effective are we in communicating face to face with others?

In today’s “digital day” such decisions are still to be made, though we now have an additional component that lends us far greater control over the impression we send to others, namely through social networking.  We are able to control the events people see, the specific words we use and the images of ourselves we like, and simply discard what we would rather not have others see or read in forming their perception of us.

faceworkAcademically speaking, this is, ironically, called “facework” and I would guess Zuckerberg may have had this in mind when forming his new “impression management” universe, Facebook.

Now all of us are certainly free to send off any impression we desire of ourselves to the world. This being said, here are a few helpful hints as you decide what kind of perception of yourself you want the world to perceive.  As you send off pics, words, ideas, events and such off to cyberspace, perhaps it would be a good thing to keep these in mind.

  1. Be aware that every bit of information you send off to cyberspace will have an effect on you in some way big or, more often, small. It will give off an impression of you to the world. Often times we will never know of the effect because it frequently goes unmentioned. But it’s there. Don’t care? Your choice.
  2. If you are under the impression that just a select audience will see your cyberspace offerings, think again. If you are willing to drop a “fuck bomb” here or there, or worse (I personally believe a strategically placed “fuck bomb” can be effective at times) just know ALL living creatures can be privy to reading it. Even though there are ways to hide things from mom, it does not mean the dude who’s pissed at you cannot print it out and show her! Cool with that? Cool.
  3. Know that most online users can read between the lines, i.e. sense bullshit. For example, putting up pics of your self always at fun parties? Since life is not a constant party for most of us, most people will assume you have a great need to impress others and that your life is much more fun than it really is. Though your intended impression is, “Look at my fun life!” It may read more as, “Look at my gaping needs because my life is tragically sad.” Now this may be true or not, though that message can be sent. I find that users who constantly put up lovey-dovey pics alongside their significant other, often have a struggling relationship –as if a posted pic might change it. Even if people believe the erroneous perception, eventually  the truth is discovered. Don’t care?  Awesome.
  4. Careful of the philosophies you desire to espouse online. Be it religious, political, or philosophical, a wrong perception can be easily sent to others as (close your ears as I’m about to scream) SOCIAL NETWORKING IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE MEDIUM TO DISCUSS IN-DEPTH ISSUES THAT DESERVE THE RESPECT OF A MEDIUM THAT OFFERS ABILITY FOR DEEPER DIALOGUE! A blog will do just fine. Don’t care that people may get a wrong impression of you without the ability to further clarify your position? Fine. Just don’t be surprised when it happens.
  5. Providing personal information to the cyber world audience is a lot like getting a tattoo: It seemed a good idea at the time. For some, they have a life-long love for their chosen skin ink; for many others it was just not a good choice.  I have chosen to be candid about most of my life online, though, to be sure, it was not flippant or “not thought out” decision -as my M.O. is allowing people in. I am far from an alarmist by nature, even if the threat is small, yet it still exists.

Go ahead. Put that ugly pic up on Facebook. Say something you really mean.  Give the world a right impression. Or is it?



  1. Speaking of things permanently ‘out there’ my nana said ‘you don’t want to be the woman in a nursing home with a tramp stamp or those stupid Rolling Stones lips tattooed on your boob getting a sponge bath and a diaper change.’ Like the nonsense posted on FB, it’s there forever..she was ahead of her time.

  2. Yeah…though Rolling Stones lips on an 80 year old boobie would look more like a cave stalagmite at that point.

      • sta·lag·mite
        [stuh-lag-mahyt, stal-uh g-mahyt] Show IPA
        a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, more or less resembling an inverted stalactite, formed on the floor of a cave or the like by the dripping of percolating calcareous water.

        • I think Diane is suggesting the metaphor would be more effective referencing a stalactite rather than a stalagmite, as it more closely resembles the contour of a pendulous breast. That is all.

  3. How honest would you say these posts are to who we are? For example, I think Facebook is like a résumé for our social lives, obviously we fluff it a bit to make it look better, but what about the aspects we choose to highlight. I wonder if the content we post may suggest things we value like relationships, education, or humor. What do you think?

    • Yes, I believe that to be true -yet no matter what we post, we either consciously or subconsciously are attempting to project an image of who we are. I actually spoke about this with a family member last night after reading this blog. She told me that she will post ugly pics of herself because she wants people to see her playful side as well. In other words, even the unflattering pics are posted with an impression management objective. In regards to relationships, education and humor…we can value those things dearly though we still can manipulate how these things are presented to the world. I recently posted a family photograph because I greatly value family, though you damn better believe I chose the pic that I believe was most flattering to me. It really is ultimate narcissism (I have a great article for you to read on this)expressed through impression management. Thanks for the feedback Luis!

  4. As to the “Ugly pix” I have (in the past) joined some dating websites and gone on dates via the website. The pix DON’T match the person (maybe with perfect lighting with the perfect pose) I am guilty of this myself. But as to posting things on facebook you are dead on, not only do people put that info in their “mind file” they have on you, but now more and more employers are checking out your facebook page before hiring you, if what you put out there doesn’t fit the the image the company wants to portray then you are SOL. Something to keep in mind when posting funny pix of yourself with farm animals 🙂

    • Craig…check out the link entitled “the truth is discovered” under the 3rd suggestion. Spot on. Why give a bullshit pic if you really want to meet someone??

  5. Even before social media, I was very well aware ( when putting photo albums together, e.g. ) that my life, travels, etc. became a series of anecdotes and photos that made the cut, while the rejects were omitted from the photo albums and collected dust in storage. Having written many of my experiences as narrative nonfiction essays now, I find that the essays become the ‘official’ version of an event while other details fall away or fade into the sands of time. Unfortunate but true. I am well aware the ‘revisionist history’ is alive and well and am surrounded by people who create ‘mythology;’ ‘If you say it enough, it will become the truth.’ I have found lately, when stumbling across an old box of ‘reject’ photos from my travels, that the true nuance is there in the alternate versions of an event that are stuffed away, the imperfect moments and the inconvenient intrusions and the chaos of life unstaged.

  6. Oh, let’s be clear- and I post only flattering photos. Duh. I have my friends to tag me in the less-than-flattering ones. And I have never, in all my humility, untagged myself.

  7. That is so true. Sometimes the pics we do not like at the moment ultimately become the most telling and informative narratives. I wonder if our initial perception of a pic is filtered through a dysfunctional lens caused by our prejudice at the moment. Why? Because frequently I will go back to a pic I did not like and think to myself…what was I thinking? This is a great pic. I think the ugliness of the pic Rosie posted of all of us facetiming tells a far greater story than my perception of my perceived attractiveness. I suppose I, like the rest of us, just need to get over ourselves.

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