Unlocking the mysteries of Muslim profile pictures

I think I’m a bit of a jerk. Almost all of my profile pictures are of me in swanning around in some locale other than my own, and I can’t claim that it’s entirely accidental. After all, how can a social media persona be accidental when it involves such a conscious process of selection and omission? We upload some pictures, but not the ones where we have a double chin. We post ‘intelligent’ or hilarious quotes, but we don’t advertise when we’re sitting around in our pyjamas at 3pm and watching repeat episodes of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. (Unless it’s done with hilarious irony, of course.)

Since it seems that many Muslims don’t mix with the opposite sex all that much in a purely social setting, it’s interesting to think about just how much influence a person’s online presence on how they are perceived by the opposite sex, and even more interestingly, how much we consciously tweak our online presence, whether consciously or unconsciously, to influence that perception. But just how successful are these attempts? Let’s take a closer look at the most common Muslim profile picture trends and what social cues they might signal:

1.) The Glam Shot

What we think: ‘Gee whiz, I’m looking great at this wedding/party/bathroom mirror selfie fest! Let’s share this with everyone and watch the mashaAllahs roll in like waves crashing on a sandy shore.’

What he/she think: ‘Errr, I saw you last week and you don’t really look like that. Nice angle and filter though.’

2.) The Spiritual Shot

What we think: ‘This posed photo of my hand clasping some prayer beads really captures my spiritual side.’

What he/she thinks: ‘Wonder who they got to take that one?’

3.) The Experience Shot

What we think: ‘Even though I’m at work every day and at the gym/hanging with my parents/washing my car/giving my cat a bath 99% of the time, these photos of me swanning around Spain perfectly sum up the well-rounded marriage material I am.’

What he/she thinks: ‘How on earth do they afford that?’

4.) The Not-My-Face Shot

What we think: ‘No one’s allowed to see my face except the thousands of people I see every day on the bus and train. Therefore, here’s a photo of a bunch of flowers/a deserted beach.’

What he/she thinks: ‘I can’t remember what you look like, but that’s probably not a good sign.’

5.) The Family Man/Woman Shot

What we think: ‘Once they see how expertly I hold my baby niece, they won’t be able to resist wanting to start a family with me!’

What he/she thinks: ‘What a cute baby…not sure about you though.’

6.) The Come-to-this-event shot

What we think: ‘Not only is this a cool cause, but now you know exactly where to come find me!’

What he/she thinks: ‘Ceebs.’

7.) The I’ve-met-someone-famous shot

What we think: ‘I’m so cool, I’ve met that dude from that YouTube clip!’

What he/she thinks: ‘No idea who that is, but eww, groupie alert.’

8.) The Doing-something-hilarious shot

What we think: ‘See, I can be riding a camel/eating a giant slice of pizza and still look cute!’

What he/she thinks: ‘That pizza sure looks good.’

9.) The Modestly-looking-away shot

What we think: ‘You can see enough of my face against this ocean backdrop to know that I’m cute, but that’s all you’re going to get.’

What he/she thinks: ‘I wonder if they have a breakout on the other side of their face that they’re trying to hide?’

10.) The Very Intellectual quote shot

What we think: ‘I’ll quote X scholar/philosopher and then you’ll know I read books and stuff and then you’ll want to marry me.’

What he/she thinks: ‘Yawn, that book was so 2014.’

I jest, I jest. Obviously I’m hyperbolising, but I do think it’s important to question our intentions and how we craft our social media presence. But I suppose people just spilling their guts without thought can be annoying too. After all, who wants to know that I’ve been cleaning out the bathroom cupboard for several days? (I have. I really have.)

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2 responses to “Unlocking the mysteries of Muslim profile pictures

  1. Hahaha loved the list! Hilarious! Hyperbolising or not, can’t help but think of the accuracy.

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