Craig’s Guide to Profile Pictures

I think that too many Internet users are careless about the content and quality of their profile picture. It’s an issue that drives me crazy. It has for years. Let me lay it all out for you.

It doesn’t matter which social network or online service you are using, selecting a good profile picture to represent yourself is very important. It’s the one picture that the people you interact with will see every day. For someone that does not already know you, this is the first image they will see of you.

As I write this, I’m thinking of a social network along the lines of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or Google+. Twitter is slightly different because it’s filled with a lot of parody accounts and people aren’t expected to post under their true identity. It’s not uncommon to see a lot of inanimate objects as profile pictures there. Therefore, I’ll exclude that from my decree of what a profile picture should contain because anything goes in the land of Twitter.


Let me take a moment to explain what a profile picture should be. A profile picture is a picture of you, and you only. Not your spouse, not your kid, and not your pet. It should be a picture with a single human being in it, and that human can only be you. Not a picture of you amongst a group of five people, or you posing with your best friend, or anyone else for that matter. Just you! The instant that you post a profile picture with your significant other, you have effectively jumped the shark.

In fact, I am friends with a couple that individually use the exact same profile picture of the two of them. Such behavior is not only gag inducing, but when either of them writes a post or a comment, it becomes a little confusing as to who wrote what I’m reading. Everyone should unfollow them until they are able to make better decisions for themselves.

I’ll mention some examples of ridiculous things that I’ve seen used as actual profile pictures. For one, a full comic strip. Yes, someone I know on Facebook used an actual four-pane comic strip as their single profile picture. I couldn’t even tell what I was looking at until I blew it up full-screen, let alone be able to read it. What would possess someone to think that this would be a good idea? Sheer lunacy.

If you use a generic profile picture such as a flower or a butterfly, the message you are sending is that you are unhappy with your appearance and have something to hide. Your friends can already see all of your other pictures, so you can go ahead and stop doing this.

I do not participate in any call to change my profile picture to show support for something. That is something I will not do. I don’t care how serious or unserious the cause is. A few times in the past, I’ve seen a trend in the month of May where some dope will put out a call on Facebook for everyone to change their profile picture to a picture of their mom for Mothers Day. What? Get real. Only a moron would do something like that.

This brings me to the worst type of profile picture of them all. Pardon me, expectant mothers, but using a sonogram photo is the absolute worst thing you can post as your profile picture. Completely unacceptable! When I read your posts, I want to see a picture of your face next to them. Not a blurred, black and white, two-dimensional x-ray of an underdeveloped baby that looks more like an unfinished balloon animal stuffed in a pillowcase. Stop this right now.


Your profile picture must be a perfect square. It needs to be the same number of pixels tall as it is wide. Please use photo editing software on your computer to create this exact square image before attempting to upload it to the social network. Do not use an existing photo that you uploaded eighteen months ago and attempt to crop out other people by using the shoddy online profile photo cropping tool. This ends up looking careless and sloppy.

When it comes to pixel count, do not attempt to use a picture that is a tiny 100 or 200 pixels. That image size may look acceptable in a comments section, but when someone pulls up your profile picture to see an expanded view, the result is a jagged, pixelated mess.


I need to toss in a disclaimer about my own profile picture. Every year, around October 30, I’ve been in the habit of changing my Facebook profile picture to the Halloween mask of Michael Myers. This is a clear violation of rule #1. However, it’s fun and witty. I only have it up for about two days, and I think it amuses people. It’s festive and I’ll allow it. Is that hypocritical of me? Yep.

I’m sure that the condescending tone of this blog post isn’t going to win friends or influence people, but I had to make it understood how I feel about the business of profile pictures. In my experience, people really need to get their act together.

I’m willing to go so far as to say that if I were in charge of my own social network, a.k.a. “Craigbook,” I would make it my policy to choose everyone’s profile picture for them. A pop-up box would appear that says, “I don’t trust your decision-making skills. I’ll choose from your existing photos one that I think is best for you.” Of course, no one would want to be a part of a service like that, but it sure would make for a pleasant online utopia, at least in my eyes.

PS — The domain “Craigbook” is not available. Believe me, I already checked.

Author: Craig Tisinger


6 thoughts on “Craig’s Guide to Profile Pictures”

  1. I agree with pretty much all of this. I’ve never seen a sonogram profile picture. That doesn’t surprise me, but I’m with you, just no. Granted I don’t have much right to say anything, as my Facebook pic is one I took of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. I’d change it to something else, but you know I generally loathe FB and simply haven’t bothered uploading any pictures to it for over a year now. Maybe one day.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I use the term profile “image” rather than picture or photo. Without going too off-topic, photos never capture the actual person since aside from a photo we never see a person frozen, dissected in time that way. Living beings are evanescent, moving, dynamic, and to reclaim some of this living quality requires a bit of Photoshop artistry. For this reason I enjoy stylized images of myself, to express the soul within the static frame.

    Craig, replacing your profile image as a short-term gag does not break your rules, but is the exception that proves the rule, and another example of creativity.

    Apparently people feel proud of their significant other, child, or pet, but those images seem bizarre in a profile image since the post showing the profile image is not from the person AND/OR their child, dog, or partner. Children and pets are not ours, they do not belong to us or represent us or our accomplishment or failing. Rather we are their caretakers, for a short time. There is a vast difference. A partner is not ours. There is no possession or pride involved. Such a profile image reveals more than its creator intended, and that is one reason it feels so off. Their profile image might as well feature a photo of them holding a college diploma or sports trophy.

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