Sunday, February 10, 2013

Perception and Presentation of Self in the Everyday Life of the Internet

According to Taoist astrology:

The year of the Serpent is a time of introspection, planning, and seeking answers. People will ponder and think before they act. Good taste and elegance will prevail in fashion, theatre, film, and all the arts. Serpent wisdom influences contributions in the sciences through new technological inventions and discoveries. But this is not an auspicious year for gambling, investing, or taking any financial risks because the calamities of the previous Dragon year can continue into Serpent year. Expect political extremes, scandals, and the exposing of secrets. (h/t Debra, She Who Seeks)

Today (or yesterday) it's a new moon in Aquarius, which means looking at the Big Picture according to Tom at New Paradigm Astrology.  Tom is talking about the big picture behind our personal relationships because by understanding the big picture, the little picture we each experience individually becomes clearer.  We have an opportunity to shift our own perspective so that we're not undermining our own happiness in that department.

While I was pondering pictures big and small, the Artist in the Woods said he'd morphed my Facebook profile picture for his project (fbfcu from funism).  I was already aware of the project, and was interested to see how I turned out because Herb's sort of illustrates Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, a concept that's been in the spin cycle over here in the Triciasphere for some time, most recently in the context of mirrors, reflections and filters.   I may actually read Goffman's book some day, but for now, I'll just keep looking at the pictures.  Herb emailed me this image:
My first thought was:  Jeez! You can really tell I just got my hair colored in the one on the right.  Then I learned from Herb that the one on the left is a different person entirely.  Even though my assumption that everything I see is all about me was a bit embarrassing, I was relieved because I thought he'd shuffled through my old photo albums on Facebook and compared this photo:

with my current profile pic: 

Sometimes, I'm a little embarrassed by the Shiner beer photo.  Other times, it makes me feel powerful.  The Rebbe Mohammed McCrory took the photo around 2008, maybe, and she's good at taking flattering photos.  A couple of years ago, I posted it on FB because  Joe, over at Worldwide Hippies and I were exploring an idea he called Tits & Activism.   The tagline at Worldwide Hippies was Changing the World, One Mind at a Time, and we were getting tired of preaching to the choir.  We needed a few new minds to influence.  We thought that when people who typically ignore Social and Political analysis and commentary saw Tits on the internet, they might follow the link and read the first few lines of an article.  We weren't thinking about changing the minds of any teabaggers - just getting the attention of people who typically care more about tits and beer than about climate change, for example. 

The thing about the Tits photo, at least from what I learned on Match dot com, is that a lot of men see the tits and don't read a damn thing.  They get other ideas, apparently, and it makes them stupid.  That's why the photo makes me feel powerful sometimes.  I like to imagine the voice of the Goddess saying, "Behold the Matriarchy" and it makes all those dumb asses sit down and shut up.  It can be particularly confounding to men who see the photo after getting into an argument with me over politics, social justice or feminism in particular.  Must be something about the juxtaposition of tits and opinions.  In some gestalts, the two are mutually exclusive.

In any case, when my buddy Nicole  (I Love Nicole Show) took the photo of me in the green shirt, I had just gotten my hair colored.  Looking at it recently on FB, I noticed that my scalp looked weird at the top of my forehead - which will happen when somebody's just gotten his or her hair dyed red.  After a week or two, and a couple of thorough washings, that red glow fades into something more along the lines of Irish Setter Red which I enjoy.  I'm not sure I enjoy the radioactive quality in the pixelated version.

Since my entire forehead is not glowing red in the original snapshot, I suspect the color morphed somehow during the pixelating process.  So now, the radioactive red is open to interpretation and can mean anything.  For example, we could speculate that my Kundali energy rises so strongly that a red glow pops erupts from my skull.  Or maybe I've absorbed energy from Archangel Uriel that vibrates on the red frequency.  Or maybe I'm just hot headed sometimes.  It doesn't really matter because the observer's perspective determines what is seen - whether it's a hairdresser, a yoga teacher, a doctor,  your friendly neighborhood alchemist or a total stranger.  When you start throwing Quantum stuff into the mix, there's no telling what the spin cycle could produce - especially in the Triciasphere.

Once I got done ruminating on Herb's presentation of my self, I remembered the pictures that the lovely and talented Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein, aka Steve Denton, photoshopped for use in his graphic novel, Hip Deep Mountain High.  As it happens, the Rebbe took those pictures too. I was supposed to be a boozy milf, but my character morphed into a small town hooker with a heart of gold.  An excellent morph that was fully based on Doctor Monkey's perspective.

In this frame, Linda Pepsi-Johnson is telling a young fellow who thought he was getting a freebie to think again.  I wasn't so sure what I thought about the images of me the Doctor used in the graphic novel either since I was trying to look like a hot tomato and Woody Konopack said I looked like a Meth Head.  Meth Heads are consistent with the setting of Hip Deep Mountain High, so I wasn't so worried about that.  I was more concerned because the way the Doctor accentuated my cleavage felt awkwardly and alarmingly intimate.  A little twisted and/or perverted.  As it happens, the Doctor MVM is a little perverted in the most endearing way, so the whole experience was warm and fuzzy even if my mother was momentarily distressed.  

I was a bit uncomfortable to find my self objectified and plastered on the internet as a hooker, but  there's not much difference in that and the Tits photo whether it's used for Tits & Activism or for testing male response on  on Match dot com - either way, I objectify my own self which is what we do to one degree or another on Match dot com, or on Facebook and even in blogs like this one where people become characters in stories that are generally called Creative Non-Fiction.  We are characters in the stories we tell ourselves in our own heads, too.  Some would argue that all those stories morph in a way that blurs reality and fiction - which brings us back to Presentation of Self and Images by Herb.

Even though Herb didn't pixelate his own FB profile picture, his real self remains an indistinct blur which is, I suppose, the point of the project Proximity and Distance.  In some ways, I'm still curious about the Artist in the Woods, but over time, it's become increasing clear romance isn't happening.   He says he's "stoked" to be single, but he doesn't act like any man I have ran across on the internet who is stoked to be single.  Those guys inevitably make some kind of suggestive remarks even when they're not particularly interested in the woman to whom they are being suggestive - like the professor at the little college in New England who friended me simply to indulge in a little racy flirtation while he was grading papers (Archetypes and Internet Romance, Stonerdate 12.19.10).   

Herb's correspondence is so remarkably neutral that if he's interested in me at all, it's just as a friend.  Like those friendships where the guy is more like a girlfriend, or an androgynous confidant.  So platonic that one or both of us might as well be gay.  My high school friend, Cretin Vodka, fell into that category and it's generally a great category.  Before he became fiercely infatuated with me during his last divorce, Rhet started calling him Flounder - like Flounder and Ariel, not Flounder in Animal House (Matters of Trust, Stonerdate 11.18.09).  He was persistent, and eventually mightily pissed at me, with some justification I'll admit.  About a year after a huge, emotional blow-out, he got married to somebody he met on Match (I think), which supported my position that he didn't have lasting feelings nearly so much as he was projecting a fantasy onto me.  It happens. 

Maybe I was projecting a fantasy onto the Artist in the Woods, too.  As long as we're all distorted, filtered images on the internet, we exist only as perceptions and projections anyway.


Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

You did look great in my project. And you still do.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I'm thinking you look wonderful. Such a quick smile!
Tom over at Kaypatche with his video ala zodiac status sounds way too stoner sometimes...why I like him so much ( i'm thinking ) ah add on to the excellent descriptions that begin the post...

The Chinese year 4711 begins on Feb. 10, 2013. It is the year of the Water Snake. It's qualities include the YIN properties of abundance, drawing in, ambition, focus, plenty of passion this year dedicated towards ideals / goals. It is a conservative sign in taking time and care to fix intentions and follow through.
A new year of the water snake.

Anonymous said...

"......Jeez! You can really tell I just got my hair colored in the one on the right......."

Well, either that or you were experiencing a cathartic crimson-crowned Zapruder moment at the very instant the photograph was taken.

".....The thing about the Tits photo, at least from what I learned on Match dot com, is that a lot of men see the tits and don't read a damn thing. They get other ideas, apparently, and it makes them stupid......"

The Tutor, aka Bilious C. Pudenda, would caution you about this declarative. You might be confusing the correlative with the causative. Men who are fixated on teats are already stupid. Viewing them on "Match" confirms correlation, not causation.
The Tutor would maintain that real men fixate on hips, thighs and vulva - in that order.

And as far as Astrology is concerned, I prefer the 'Signs' of the ancient Classic Maya Zodiac, one of which is known as "The Copulating Peccaries".
How cool is that?
Unfortunately, I was born under the sign of "The Fretting Kitten".

I am not bitter.

PENolan said...

LtoF, I've made that same mistake before with correlation and causality. The Tutor is doubtlessly correct. Could be why he's a tutor.

Fretting Kitten? I'm going to have to check to find out what I am now. Let's hope it's got nothing to do with Zapruder.

I love your comments because I always learn something new.

Anonymous said...

The Tutor is an idiot, actually. I merely tolerate him because of his inherent Caucasoidal 'girthyness'. We Asians like that sort of thing, doncha know.

Oh and he feeds me all manner of interesting crap which, in and of itself, possesses no inherent worth other than to dazzle in someone's Handy Comments Facility.
I'm glad you got the Zapruder joke, that's one of The Tutor's best. And 'Fretting Kitten' is fabricated, but the 'Copulating Peccaries' is real.

mac said...

I'll admit to being mesmerized by your Shriner beer Tits photo. In fact, I'm quite fond of just about any photo of you. You are a formidable woman :-)

PENolan said...

@mac, as delighted as I am to be considered formidable, I wish it were less of an impediment in finding a partner. Something (or someone) will present itself, however. It always does.

@ALtoF - girth is key

Anonymous said...

PENolan opined,

"......@ALtoF - girth is key....."

Oh you saucy minx.
Careful though, we would not want to evoke the terror of "Vagina Dentata" amongst the sensitive members of the heterogametic sex who toady about 'round here.
As that famous philogynist, Herr Freud would say, "Kastrationsangst ist ein bummer! Ya?"

Anonymous said...

PENolan lamented,

"......Something (or someone) will present itself, however. It always does......"

In the meantime, this?

I load mine with pirated "Death Metal". Does the trick nicely. Though the first few bars of the Beach Boys, "Do It Again" and Queen's "We Will Rock You" have their charms.

Sexy you're a girl make a big noise
Playin' in the street gonna be a big girl some day
You got grin on yo' face
You big disgrace
Wavin' that thing all over the place

Gail said...

when you "got it", you "Got it" and girl, you "got it"!!
Love Gail

PENolan said...

ALroF - an excellent rendition. I will never think of that song the same way again.

Gail - Hello! Hope you're settling into your new place comfortably

Anonymous said...

"Perceptions and projections". Love it.

PENolan said...

Do you, Anonymous? Well, it was a good fantasy and entirely possible - from my perspective anyway. Who knows? Maybe he'll come out of the woods one day and we'll see what it's like to be real.

Cali said...

I hope people really do think before acting this year, especially politicians and Supreme Court judges. I think the citizens have had enough of their collective bullshit. But I sure will enjoy the "exposing of secrets," (as long as the secrets are somebody else's,) especially those of the tea baggers and other assorted right wing loons. Let us hope that Clarence Thomas gets in on that deal. I can't wait to watch HIM squirm!

I learned a couple of things from my experiments with online dating, too. First, the more suggestive or revealing the photo, the more responses you get. You could say you are a serial killer in your spare time and if you've got cleavage showing in your photo, dozens of men will STILL ask for your contact info. The second thing was more of a confirmation of a previous hypothesis: men SAY they want an intelligent mate, but they really don't. They want someone who looks good on their arm/makes their buddies drool, someone who doesn't question whatever asinine thing that comes out of his mouth, and last but not least, someone who isn't smart enough to know when she's being lied to. The last thing they want is someone who is intellectually challenging. That makes mate finding especially difficult for those of us with IQs higher than the band size of our bras.

As for the projections, we all do it. Where we run into trouble is when we fall in love with the person they could be rather than the person they are. I think we've all experienced that a time or two. And it sucks once you figure out that you were actually the one that screwed the pooch.

PENolan said...

100% Ditto re: men on Match et al may SAY they want to be with an intelligent woman, but they don't like being with women who are astute enough to challenge their perspective.

Few people like having their perspective challenged, however. I'm hoping that one day soon, a single, straight, financially secure man in my demographic has enough physical, emotional and intellectual stamina to hang tough and hang around.
Somebody well hung in every way, you could say ;)

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