Five reasons why people use avatars instead of real pictures on the internet

“Do not put party-pics on your facebook profil as future employers might see them and then not hire you,” is the common advise people get and give when it comes to the usage of social networking sites.

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A lot of people follow that advise even further than that: Not only do they not put party-pics on their site, they do not want their real name or picture on them either.

Instead they use so called “avatars” (artificial, virtual identity) and made up names.

But why would you do that? Of course there are several reasons:

1. You fear that if you speak your mind too freely it might come back at you.

A lot of people feel that they cannot express their opinion, follow their likes (like playing online games) or just curse their boss openly when it has their real face and name on it.

“Anonymity allows you to express and view opinions (…) you wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable with elsewhere,” says Christopher ‘Moot’ Pole, founder of where you can post content without signing up.

2. You just feel that your web personality is different from your real life personality.

“I wear pants outside, but I don’t wear them in the shower. I put my real name on my passport, but not on a website I use to kill time at work,” user ‘ProTeacher‘ explains.

The internet can function as a big role play game. Creating identities, having then interact with others, acting in a way that suits their ‘life’, but not necessarily the ‘players’ – everything becomes possible.

This might work fine on some sites like facebook, but it’s rather unhelpful and mean on online dating sites.

3. You think your real pics look ugly.

In fact this is a reason many avatar-users give for using pictures other than their own.

“My real picture scared the hell out of people,” user ‘Gordon‘ says with a sad smiley behind it.

Well, is there something like cyber-bullying then where people go around and tell others ‘your pic is ugly’?

I’m sure there is.

4. You are afraid that the “cyber-police” finds you.

That’s at least “mistikos parasite”’s reason for hiding his face from the online worlds.

He/ she seems to believe that not using your real name and face makes it harder to track down illegal actions on the web.

Fact is that i.e. illegal music download is traced via the IP address of the user and not the name, real address or pictures.

Therefore this reason is not a good one.

5. It’s fun.

How much of me is in that doll?

Creating an avatar allows you to reflect your own characteristics and ways.

For example: When you decide to create a doll or manga avatar you have to try and see yourself in a totally different context.

You can either find ‘your nose’ and ‘your chin’ which makes you see yourself with real honesty, or you can entirely change you and therefore get rid of the features you don’t like.

It’s like re-inventing yourself.

However, I will stick to my real name and a real, unphotoshopped picture of me. Because I believe that doing that makes you more trustworthy and more responsible in how you enact with others.

If you want to avatar-yourself try these:


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14 Responses to Five reasons why people use avatars instead of real pictures on the internet

  1. Sebastian says:

    You forgot #6: People are lemmings. When someone says “Hey, let’s all pick our childhood heroes for our profile pics!”, people will join in like crazy.

  2. I agree that a future employer might Google your name… but what I would worry most about is the content associated with your name not your picture unless it is a kind of job where you really have to be anonymous for some reason. For instance I so do not like seeing my children swearing and saying things I would not say on their Facebook status. By try to explain that to teenagers…
    I personally use my real picture. I also have two avatars (my Second Life avatar and my Gamertag avatar) so sometimes I do use them but not to hide the real me.

    • Hi Prisqua,

      thanks so much for your comment.

      I think you’re absolutely right. First of all it depends on the environment you’re asked to use a picture in – if it is for online gaming an avatar can be much more appropriate than a picture.

      I also read: Even though employers check your images, they might also find it weird to find no personal (only professional) ones as this might indicate that you don’t have a social life or you’ve got something to hide.

      So, I guess it depends on what you’re using your different accounts for and then control the way you present yourself on those platforms.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.


  3. Jerry McGuire says:

    Check out the new super-powered Google Image search feature. Not the keyword that we’re used to with the magnifying glass icon. The camera icon !

    With it you can enter a url of a graphic or pic and it will bring up where its used all over the place and similiar pics. With a simple avatar you can pull up private photos that bots have cached from people’s photobuckets and all over the place. hi-tech ! Don’t use real photos

  4. Jerry McGuire says:

    With the new google image search, you can also pull up private details like people’s account names on forums, email. Get this. With just a photo pic using this method I have even pulled up people’s credit card billing info with the info it pulls up like email and details.

    I would seriously not post any photos of any kind. So many security leaks.

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