Why tech writers don’t look like their LinkedIn photos

By | May 20, 2016

This week, for the fourth time in four months, I met a fellow tech writer who didn’t look at all like her LinkedIn photo. Clearly, this is some kind of secret (or possibly taboo) social media phenomenon that no one is talking about.

I will now bravely go where no previous commentator has gone before, and offer some theories to explain why tech writers have LinkedIn faces that look five, even ten, years younger than their actual flesh and blood faces.

Of the four, three are women and one is a man. The man, by the way, is a  perfectly reasonable looking man who is much younger than I am.

Some theories:

Scarcity of cameras: we’re all aware of how rare and expensive cameras have become in the 21st century and therefore how difficult it is to get even a mediocre photo taken, not to mention a first-rate one. I know one writer who spent thousands and thousands of dollars and ended up with blurred, black and white image the size of a postage stamp.

Dorian Gray reversal: in Oscar Wilde’s brilliant novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a young man about town in Victorian London has his portrait painted. As he grows older (and increasingly debauched), he doesn’t age, but the painting does. I think tech writers have somehow reversed this: they want the photo to stay the same while they age. Writers, please reread the Oscar Wilde book!

Fear of wrinkles: we all get wrinkles as we age. We should embrace them, as indicators of knowledge, experience and wisdom. I’ve had some of my wrinkles since my teenage years.  If the workplace were truly fair, our hourly rate of pay would reflect the density of wrinkles per square inch of facial surface: the higher the count, the higher the pay. (see photo above, as justification for my hourly rate).

Misperception of age: do we display our younger faces because many of us consider IT to be a young person’s game? I think we do. The over-forties supposedly can’t keep with new trends, gizmos, gadgets and doodads. I would argue the young folk don’t even know what a doodad is. I rest my case.

Sheer vanity: are writers vain? Surely not. We live by our words, not by our faces. Our faces age, but our words are perennially youthful. And some of our words may live forever, thanks to digital technology. That is our revenge on the aging process.

Ignorance of a certain photo equation: I now realize many tech writers don’t know about the GL Bundchen Equation, which states that EPP=distance from camera/2 x the speed of light squared. Roughly translated, this means the further you sit from the camera, the higher the EPP value (EPP stands for Excellence in Portrait Photography). I’ve used this equation to great success over the years..

Of course another option for writers is to simply run no photo at all. In the old days we used our imaginations to conjure up faces after meeting people by phone, teasing from their voices and word choices some hint or suggestion of what they looked like. That was fun, as I remember, although I have to admit my memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

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