Beware of Image: Why It Matters How You Present Yourself
A photo is supposed to be worth a thousand words. Well, that is only a fraction of the number of words spurred by one particular photo over the weekend.
In short, a publicist for Disney Motion Pictures took suggestive photo with four bloggers while on a press junket. Those involved claimed it was just harmless fun– good friends goofing off. Be that as it may, the misstep happened when the publicist posted the photo online and left it subject to interpretation.
You can read a balanced account of the story from AdWeek, with links to the original post that called out the impropriety of the photo and comments from its defender. One of the bloggers seen in the photo provides her take on it as well. You can make up your own mind about what exactly the photo suggests…
Earlier in the week, there was another image that drew the ire and backlash of the blogging community. This one was the accompanying “info”-graphic to an offensive and demeaning Wall Street Journal piece about business conferences being just a front for “Moms Gone Wild”.
The article leads with the words: “Katherine Stone, a 43-year-old mother and wife from Atlanta, wants to leave her husband and children…” The Katherine Stone profiled is the blogger behind Postpartum Progress and shares this apology to her family, readers, and community on Babble.com.
If the condescending tone, the laughable slant on business travel, or the assertion that any time two or more motivated, smart, ambitious women gather it must be to escape their sad, dreary lives and nothing more impactful to the world isn’t enough to turn you off this article, then the knowledge that its featured “source” disavows it entirely should.
On the other hand, there is some truth to the fact that women (and men) like to get away and can be absolutely giddy at the thought of having fun with peers, dinners out, and getting to travel. Is that ALL there is to blogging conferences, yoga seminars, or sales meetings? Of course not! But to a Wall Street Journal outsider peering in and looking for the sensationalist spin, perhaps the frivolities is all that stands out.
There is always three sides to every story—his, hers, and the reality.
In both of these instances, an image is put forth for public consumption. In one, a man poses with a group of women. (Is it misogynistic? Is it just some silliness? Was it in poor taste?) In another, countless female bloggers openly relish the chance to enjoy the opportunity to get away and connect with their peers. There are parties and brand events along the way. (Is it just blowing off some steam after days packed with work and professional growth? Or is it also just some silliness and nothing more?)
The big lesson from this past week is that regardless of the truth, the photos and words we leave behind are always subject to interpretation. Once they leave our possession—our minds, our fingers, our smartphones—they become to domain of public speculation, insinuation, and implication. We lose control the minute we press “post” and there is no going back. And while a lapses in judgment may be forgiven, it will not soon be forgotten thanks to the Internet.
Do you keep your professional image in mind when posting photos on your various social media outlets?