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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Avatar

I hadn't thought about it much, but when I started getting into various social media platforms, I decided it would make sense for me to use a single avatar.

The avatar usage started right here on this blog. I started blogging back in 2005, and I honestly can't remember what picture I had originally used when I started or how often I changed it around. But one of my buddies from work, Taras Shuper, had small pictures of his bloggy friends on the right nav of his website, and within it included a small head shot derived from a photo I had on one of my websites.

I quite liked it -- taken from a photo of me leaning out over the railing of the Staten Island ferry with the Manhattan skyline behind me, it was simple and obviously me.

From that point forward, I updated my Blogger profile blog avatar to the cool image that Shoop had used and haven't changed it since. I also updated my MySpace avatar to include the same head shot. (Though I did create a changing gif for that one, flashing between my profile pic and my book One Hand Screaming)

Then, as I joined various different social media platforms and online groups, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Goodreads, I used the very same avatar. Given that my original reason for going to the various social media platforms was to expand my networking as a writer and engage in various self-promotional activities (sometimes blatant and shameless, and other times subtle and quiet), I thought it might be important to have a consistent look. So if somebody followed my blog and then wanted to "friend" me on a different social media platform, they could tell, without much fuss, that it was indeed the same person.

Given that most of my social network connections use my writing name "Mark Leslie" rather than my full name "Mark Leslie Lefebvre" -- the consistent avatar also helped shed a tiny bit of confusion as to my identity. Those who knew me in person or from work should immediately recognize the tightly cropped head shot -- and those who knew me from other social networking platforms should be able to easily recognize that it was the same person.

And while I admire the fact that people frequently change the profile pictures on Facebook, matching their mood or something that is of great significance to them, or in the case of authors, changing their profile pic to their most recent book, that hasn't been something for me.

I can honestly say that since I joined Facebook I haven't once changed my profile pic from that fun headshot my buddy Taras created. I've been a "one profile picture" sort of guy from the very beginning. In fact, to celebrate, I just created a Facebook group to see how many others, like me, have maintained the same profile pic on Facebook from the beginning. I mean, why not? It's a fun social experiment, right?

As a point of interest, here is the original picture that my avatar headshot was derived from.


It was taken by my wife, Francine on the weekend of our anniversary several years ago when we were in New York. Having missed the ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty, we took a trip on the Staten Island Ferry at the top of the afternoon rush hour.

We had a fantastic time -- so one of the side-effects of using the same profile picture/avatar on so many different sites and platforms is that whenever I see it, it reminds me of the great time Francine and I had as well as of my cool buddy, Taras, whom I stay in moderate touch with online via different social networking platforms, but haven't seen in person in perhaps a couple of years.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 3 different online platforms/community/networking groups where I broke from this trend/habit and did NOT use that same avatar. Do you think you can you find them? I'm pretty sure you can, as at least one of them is among the more popular social media sites in use.

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