Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Friday, June 23, 2006


From the time I began online, I have heard some say not only didn't they care if they saw what online friends looked like, some preferred not to, feeling it would ruin the potential for deeper connection-- what is inside matters and not outside.

If you see it that way, forming a friendship or even falling in love before seeing the person's photograph, is more about the inner person. One friend of mine told me that to care about a picture is to be on a more superficial level. In other words-- spiritual connection is real and seeing photos lessens that-- at the very least in the beginning.

Okay, I admit. I am very visual. When I started online, I wanted to learn about people through their words but also what they and their world looked like. I shared photos of myself as well as enjoyed seeing people, their families, friends, and them through prior years. If a friend asked if I'd like to see their Aunt Sue, I'd say sure. If Aunt Sue had sounded interesting enough, I might have already requested seeing her picture. In conversations online at msn or yahoo, my friends and I sometimes use a webcam which makes it seem closer to in-person discussions.

Blogging is the same way for me. I like seeing people's pictures, their families, pets, what they see out their backdoor. I do, however, understand why some opt not to share personal photos online and particularly in a blog when it can be politically unpopular to the extent of losing jobs or relationships over words written. I was warned from the first personal photos I ever put online that it'd cause me grief. It never has-- at least not that I knew and if I didn't know, guess it didn't.

Where it has come to people meeting romantically, I have heard a surprising number of stories where someone deliberately faked the photos to get the other to fall in love with an illusion. I guess they were hoping by the time they met, it would not matter that they were now twenty years older. One woman used a photo of a slender white woman-- she was a an obese black woman. Now how do you figure that's going to work when you really meet? (It didn't.) Perhaps some get so caught up in the creating of an image with words that they forget reality.

On the other side of that coin, a photo should not be the main thing in assessing who someone is. A few friends of mine (male and female), who are looking for a partner online, have shown current photos of themselves to someone who summarily rejected them on that alone. That seems short-sighted given some people are very photogenic, and some look far better in person. A photograph is, at the most, a glimpse of what someone looks like. In person you see a person's animation as they talk, the teasing smile or gleam in their eyes, how their body moves, none of which can be shown in photos.

I am interested in how others see it. How important are images to you? Do you like to see them or not care? Are you willing to share your photo after you meet someone; and if you are not, why not? Have you ever shared your pictures online (website or blog) and regretted it later because of a problem? Do you believe it is more 'pure' to form a relationship before either of you see a photo?


Alan G said...

Okay…..this one took a little thought!

As far as putting forth an opinion on this subject about which much could be written, it certainly depends on who you are as an individual. I feel that when the “photo” word starts to get tossed around there are normally underlying motives. I am speaking in general terms here and not about this particular post by Rain by the way. Photos are indeed secondary to me because I am not looking for a “romantic” relationship. If I were simply looking for that then a photo, I am ashamed to say, would in the past have been very important. It seems to me that under those conditions, we are trying to make a relationship happen. Once we see the photo and determine that the person is attractive to us, then we decide that perhaps it is worth our time and effort to pursue a relationship with that individual – not having a clue as to what that person is about or whether two weeks from now we will decide we can’t stand them. If anyone rejects someone because they saw their photo, the one they rejected is better off based on that anyway. At least with regard to that particular relationship. Being rejected based on a photo is the way it has always been since we humans found out that was an easy way to avoid a lot of relationship baggage when we were only looking for something superficial to begin with.

But whether it is your photo or anyone else’s photo, they do give me a small sense of who someone is and that is nice to know. But if you happen to be an attractive woman, that does not cause “me” to levitate toward you for that reason.

For me personally, it is pretty simple. There are ladies who really crack me up with things they say or perhaps even the way they say them. That is who I am attracted too in every sense of that word. Those are the people, men or women, who I am going to levitate toward. For me, laughter not only gives me a real sense as to who a person is, but also a sense of their intelligence by the way they convey that humor.

I don’t put photos of myself up because I do not want to send the wrong message. I am “not looking” and I don’t want anyone to assume I am because I posted a photo. I realize that not all people think that - but many do. I am not one that automatically thinks that when I see someone’s photo, but that is because “I am not looking.” And to clarify - the term “not looking”, I use it in the ‘romantic’ context. Generally speaking, if you throw out the term “not looking” then the question of photos seems to fade away respectively.

Assuming most of us here are seniors, we share the same past historically and share a lot of similar likes and dislikes because of age. Yet….we are all different. I have been married before but I have no children. That doesn’t mean I don’t like children or would not entertain a relationship with someone who does. But I would probably levitate faster toward someone who also did not have children because there is some special common ground there – if that makes sense. If I develop and nurture any type relationship with someone it will be because of whom that person is and not how she looks. Again, I can not say that it has always been that way with me, but even these things give way to the wisdom of our ages.

Well….you asked!

Rain said...

hey, good response, Alan, thank you; so if you feel a woman might think that, would you see a womnan's photo inher blog and assume she is trolling? Now be honest! *smile*

I do see how some people's photos might say professor; so we'd assume the person was intellectual-- whether they were or not. Or if a woman has a warm, caring face in her photo (forgive me, Fran, but it's true) such as Fran from Sacred Ordinary and therefore the words she says about caring have more weight? And I can think of quite a few other blogs where the faces of the people do fit the blogs they write and I would guess add to them... but it could go to other way around, couldn't it? This is something I had never thought of when writing this. And why I love comments because somebody else always does think of aspects I didn't.

So what do others think? Would you listen more or less to words in blogs because of what the person looks like?

Alan G said...

Trolling?.......LOL :)

Honestly….No, I do not assume photos indicate trolling at all. Hope I didn’t give that impression.

I initially look at the photo just like anyone else does and immediately think, “She is attractive to me in some way or another.….or not”. That’s just human nature. But past that, we are back to even, whether there was a photo or not. Then I am on my own. I have to determine if a ‘Julie’ is really a ‘Jim’, photo or not, and what ever else goes with Cyberspace relationships. :)

Rain said...

I didn't have an opinion on what you thought, Alan, which is why I asked. It's always interesting to see how others think or what they observe about behavior. And if you thought someone might think a guy was after gals if he put up a picture; then the idea might go in reverse.

My husband said at work the men could always tell which women had just gotten divorced by lost weight, dress, make-up etc. and trolling was the term they used.

robin andrea said...

I like when people post photographs of themselves because I like to put a face to the online personna. I posted photos of myself last year. I did a look at all the decades of my life. It was fun. I often imagine what a person looks like based on their words, their sensibilities, their passions, their interests. I have been utterly shocked by photographs. No one ever looks like how I have imagined them. I think blogs are such an entirely different venue from online dating services. I am not looking for romantic connections with people, I am looking for community, for like-mindedness, for connections that will remind me that I am not alone in the world with my political social emotional perspectives. I posted photographs so people could stop imagining what I look like and just see me. I am not particularly photogenic, so it was a huge leap to actually do it. I have always liked seeing your face, Rain.

Mary Lou said...

WELL!! (rubbing hands together) I am also a very visual person, but I am also a person who does not try to create illusions. I post a picture of me on my blog, But it is a year old and my hair is MUCH longer now.

I dont feel that anyone who posts pictures on their blog are really trolling, although I have seen some blogs that are very obviously looking and looking hard.

I am not. I enjoy seeing people, and I enjoy seeing their "space" I post a lot of pictures about my home, my family, my life, my critters, but I do it for me, and no one else. ( Well MAybe I post for others, but only in an informative context)

I am a senior, like THe rest of you, and I started my blog to just keep track of my life after I retired from my job of 37 years. I was afraid that I would become a slug and just fade away with the first salty snack.

I had No idea that others would read me, or CARE about what I write. I have met several people that I have never seen face to face, but I would consider a very good friend just through their interface with me and my blog.

I have NEVER had any trouble with posting my picture. I have never hidden my identity at all, and I am not afraid. I Love meeting people through the internet, and hope I will continue to for many years to come.

I met Fran several years ago through blogging, and we plan to meet in Port Angeles next time she is up to see her SOn and family. I have met Ellen from Winnipeg, and her Husnband, Curtis from West Virginia, and I have met Blogeois from THe Portland/Vancouver area, ANd I have just found two other bloggers from within driving distance, and plan on meeting them some day soon. It is a wide wonderful world, and as scary as it is reported to be on the internet, I feel perfectly safe.
WHo wants to mess with an overweight, 6' tall woman in her 60's who can cuss with the best of them, and yell really loud? not many! And the rest of you see the 60 year old wonderfully full figured loveable grey haired woman, who has a fantastic sense of humor!

(hey, you asked...) ;)

Parapluie said...

It would be interesting to know if blogs with a picture of the blogger gets more response. Isn't it easier to write to someone when there is a visual image of that person in your mind? So just for helping to create community posting a visual personal image is good and thoughtful?

Parapluie said...

The presentation of the self-portrait is everything. I enjoy seeing your image through a glass-like screen. The screen removes the years and I see something of your youth because of the high cheek bones remain dominent.
Thanks for your post on image. I am thinking how I should present my own image.

Rain said...

That was great, Mary Lou, what you are showing through your images and i would agree with you in terms of what your photo says about you.

I think you hit on something i hadn't thought of, Parapluie, and that is whether the 'right' pictures on a blog add to people's interest in it. I bet they do. When you see someone who puts forth a certain image through landscapes, animal photos or personal ones, you probably will spend more time reading their words than if their pictures don't go with an image you find interesting to you. That would probably mean you'd have some who'd read it more for those pictures and some who'd be turned off by them.

I used that one for this piece just because it fuzzied up the main image. One of those neat computer tools that lets you instantly transform a photo