What your Facebook pic reveals

23:46, Dec 28 2011
Facebook profile photo
THE ACTION HERO: You, brave adventurer, have been placed on this Earth to show the rest of us how to live a life less ordinary.

Facebook. It's not really who you are, it's how you want to be perceived online by your friends and family - and those hundreds of other random people who you friended for reasons you cannot recall.

The crux item on your Facebook page is, of course, your profile photo. It's the telling image that accompanies your every post, summing you up in one revealing thumbnail.

Furthermore, your profile picture is not only seen by your scores of so-called friends - it's your calling card to the world, including friends of friends, like that judgy classmate you never liked in high school; and the long-forgotten ex who was Google-stalking you just last night.

Some people change their pictures regularly. Many more pick, then stick. And most of us use standard, boring images that are only slightly better than passport photos.

But for those who try to liven things up, scientists have devised a list of 10 distinct types of Facebook profile photos and what they might reveal about you. Actually, there are no scientists; I made this all up.

THE QUIRKY SHOT

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A long time ago, at the dawn of the late '90s, taking yourself too seriously on the new world wide superhighway thing was considered ''uncool'' - itself a self-mocking word recycled from hippies. If your profile pic is an unflattering image of you wearing a silly expression or a funny hat, well done for staying true to the pre-spam generation. Gramps.

THE STUDIO MODEL SHOT

The flip side of quirky, for those too young to have yet developed self-awareness. Studio poses with professional make-up and mood lighting, va-va-voom beach bikini shots, dudes with biceps casually curled over a shaved chest ... yes, yes, you're young and gorgeous, get over yourself already.

THE VAN GOGH

How is it that the best shots of you are always taken at 3am on a debauched Saturday? The answer, of course, is that the alcohol has washed away your inhibitions and your frown lines. Sadly, the person who owns the antique 1Mb phone camera used to take the shot usually has their head jammed up against yours, spoiling the Facebook profile possibilities. Or not, if you employ some judicious cropping. Who needs a left ear, anyway?

THE FORGOTTEN MEME PIC

Remember when the fad was to post a pic of the celebrity you most resemble? Or your favourite cartoon character, a brief trend that turned out to be a spectacularly pointless ''protest against child abuse''? Well, if your profile image is still of Ted Danson or a muppet, it's time to click on that ''update'' button.

THE ACTION HERO

If you regularly post pictures of yourself rock-climbing, bungy jumping, surfing Pipeline, doing a wheelie on a mountain bike or catching a monstrous huntsman spider in a plastic container, then you've got the right idea. Facebook is boring when it's about doing the dishes. You, brave adventurer, have been placed on this Earth to show the rest of us how to live a life less ordinary. When you're not working as an IT drone, that is.

MY OFFSPRING IS ME

Sure, your child is very cute but he or she is not you, even if he or she was quite recently expelled from your body. And while it's great you acknowledge that little Oscar or Jemima is the central focus of your life, it's disturbing to see a posted comment such as ''OMG, worst hangover evah!'' attributed to a cherub. Just saying.

AT ONE WITH NATURE

I have friends whose profile images have included sunsets, sea anemones, gambolling lambs and the ladies' skinny-dipping pool at Coogee. Scientists, and me, are unsure what these putative self-depictions signify. But can I just point out: it's called Facebook. Last time I looked, naturebook.com was still for sale on GoDaddy.

THE FAMILY PORTRAIT

A long time ago, Christmas was a time for taking a photograph of your family in some symmetrical seating arrangement and sending it to everyone who sent you a similar item the year before. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for making it so much easier to be stodgy and boring.

THE CLOSE-CROPPED PARENT AND CHILD SHOT

''That's right, judgy classmate from high school and long-forgotten ex who was Googling me last night - see, I have reproduced! And I'll bet you thought it would never happen.''

THE ROCK-CLIMBING, MONO-EARED, PARENT-AND-CHILD BOOZY BIKINI SHOT

OK, I've not yet seen this one but if that's you, I would love you to liven up my news feed. Please accept my random friend request. I'm the one wearing the hilariously quirky hat.

Sydney Morning Herald