For several days, I had been considering changing my profile picture on Facebook. As most millennials can attest, this decision is not made in a vacuum. I liked my current picture, but I’d had it up since February, so I was fast approaching outdated territory. I’m always afraid I’ll become one of those people who has had the same profile photo since 2015. I need to update my photo so people can stay abreast of my face’s sun damage and any changes to my hairline.
The new photo I had in my mind seemed more seasonal – I donned a tank top and aviators – but it was also a selfie. But not an obvious selfie. I wondered who would know (well, now everyone does). I also wanted to remind *certain people* that I was living my best life, which is admittedly ironic if I am worried about those certain persons getting the message. But this is 2019, and these are the facts.
The week before, Sara reviewed my current dating profile. She suggested I switch some of my photos around. “Why don’t you put your photo from Thailand here?” she suggested. “The selfie one of you on the boat?” Wow, she remembered that photo by memory?! It must be good!
I followed Sara’s advice and received three likes from people just to that photo. Maybe it was profile picture worthy.
A few days later, another friend asked to see my dating profile and remarked on my boat selfie: “Wow, that’s a good photo of you!”
Gee, thanks. Can you tell it’s a selfie? Should I make it my Facebook profile picture?
So, on a Friday morning, I made the switch. I expected the likes to go off. They did not.
After five minutes, I had two likes. This was not a bad start, but did not align with the momentum I expected. We certainly would not beat my last profile picture’s likes at this rate. Should I take it down? No, I don’t do that. I am an over-thinker (can you tell??), but I am about authenticity. If I post a photo, there are no take-backs. I have Instagrams with only two likes! The horror! But the truth!
Had I chosen the wrong time of day? Friday morning before a holiday weekend seemed like a plausible time for everyone to be on social media…but also maybe not. Maybe people were actually busy wrapping up work before taking off for the weekend – or already road tripping and/or day drinking for the weekend. Had I miscalculated the masses?
I read once that Wednesdays at 5 PM are the optimal time to drop something on social media. Everyone tends to be on their phones at that hour. I considered waiting, but Wednesday was five business days away, and I didn’t want to be that calculated, and what if I forgot, and… ugh, no going back! Right?
A few more likes floated in. Some expected attention and some unexpected, including a mother I met at a bottomless brunch three years ago who lived in Chicago and seemed to run a marathon every other month; a guy I hadn’t spoken to in six years (maybe seven?); and a friend of a friend who lived in Atlanta. Also, a woman liked it who I had quasi-asked out in November and that’s the only reason we were Facebook friends. We had had no follow-up since then. Was this the follow-up?
Then, silence. Literal radio silence. No likes for two hours. I swallowed down my panic. It’s a good photo, right? Friends had unbiasedly vetted it? Was I making the certain persons jealous?!
Abruptly, a comment! Oh gosh. Comments on photos always make me uncomfortable. I never know how to respond. If it’s a compliment, do I just like it? Do I comment back, “Thanks! Miss you!”? If it’s something else, why are you commenting? Why don’t you write on my wall or, better yet, text me?!
This comment was worse than all of that. It was my grandma. She wrote, “You are starting to resemble your grandpa!!”
…What? I look my late grandfather? Is that a good thing? I only turned 28 last month?! Do I need to wear more sunscreen? (Yes; yes, I do.) Do I delete the comment?
Several more likes trickled in before another comment arrived. My friend’s grandmother. Dear Gabriel. What is this?
“Shane,” my friend’s grandmother wrote, addressing my friend’s husband, “let me know how to buy that book.” She ended with two kissing emojis.
I blinked. What is the protocol here? My friend’s grandmother wrote a message to her son-in-law on my profile picture. Do I look like my friend’s husband? Or is this just general dementia seeping onto my photo? Am I in charge of cleanup here?
By the time I decided I would take no action, my friend’s grandmother apparently deleted the comment—or maybe her son-in-law pinged her with a WTF.
Hours later, my mom joined the discussion: “When Grandpa was 25,” she commented.
Stop it, people!
The final nail in the coffin arrived from my great aunt: “Handsome Dr!” She included heart emojis.
I surveyed the damage. Besides a handful of close friends, all likes came from people I had not spoken to or seen in eight months to nine years, and all comments came from people over the age of 60. Was I no longer culturally relevant?
Other hypotheses included, A.) my friends are just jealous of these aviators and five o’clock shadow. B.) I post too much on Facebook. C.) Russia. I could discount none of these!
The good and the bad is, this new profile picture may be up for a while. After this gauntlet, I do not anticipate enduring another profile picture change soon. So I better get used to looking like my grandpa.
If you enjoyed this, then you may also enjoy: