2012.12.02

On presenting

Comments

A long time ago I decided I was never going to put an attributed photo of my face online. On the one hand, I have a very ambivalent relationship with how I look — sometimes, I feel halfway cute, but most of the time I’m… a lot less charitable. I also really like the idea that everyone can have a different idea of what I look like. I find it really, really fascinating. And the fact is, once you see something, you can’t un-see it. There’s something really final about a flesh-and-blood photo, like the end of a great experiment. Forever afterwards, anyone dealing with me would be doing it through the lens of a concrete image, and I didn’t find that appealing.

Only this week, in a fit of madness, I actually replaced all my profile pics online with a shot of my actual face. For roughly thirty minutes at one site, it was even completely unprocessed. I recovered long enough to kill that with fire — I mean, I still need some level of plausible deniability, but what remains is, if stylized, still the same photo.

Why did I do it? Well, interacting with the world through a mask is just really, really lonely. And even though I’m probably a lot more open about myself online than I am in the flesh, and I have so many lovely friends here, not having a face is just as much a mask as wearing somebody else’s. And, well, I’m trying to be a lot more honest, to myself at the very least. Having my face stare back at me is startling. It’s terrifying. I hope it will be inspiring.

Imagining it staring at you is somewhat scarier. This isn’t regret (yet), but I’m locked in now. I don’t know how many wonderful, beautiful (or heck, tawdry, ugly) versions of myself were blown away by this act. At times I’m unbearably sad about it. And I don’t know if people will be different now. I hope not. That would be even more tragic.

I know this all sounds really crazy, but having hidden for so long I’m really kind of freaking out. It was easier being the person you imagined me to be. I could be that without even knowing who that was. Now I have to be the one doing the imagining.


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