This is my first anonymous story for #TheProfileProject – sharing a very personal and salient narrative about a Twitter profile picture. I’ve chosen the image of a carnation to draw on the idea that we wear something distinctive when we meet a stranger for the first time. I hope to meet this person ‘in real life’ soon:
“There are probably only a handful of active tweeps in my timeline who do not use their face photo as their profile image; and I am one of them. My primary reason is the attempt to remain as anonymous as I possibly can, and to protect my personal privacy as far as possible. This may appear to be a paradox, because I have a public profile (description). However, my full name is a very common one (I personally know four people with the exact full name) and if someone did not know my career path, they would not know it is me!
“I also do not want to waste time changing profile pictures every few months; I have a purpose of being on Twitter which is to engage with practitioners in my field, experts and colleagues; and for that purpose I do not see why a “real image” of me is relevant or important. However, I must admit, that when I first started using Twitter, I was hesitant to place a real face photo of myself. This is because I wear a headscarf and I am a very visible Muslim. I am proud to be Muslim; and I know that the vast majority of my followers are not anti-Muslim. But I also have first-hand experience of the change in attitude towards to me when some people see me wearing a headscarf; and a recent study has also shown that Muslim names harm job chances. I suppose I was reluctant to expose my visible “Muslim-ness” in the event that people used that as a way to judge me, instead of what I had to say and contribute. And to be honest, this worked well for me in my most active years on Twitter (2011-2012). I gained 1,000 followers on Twitter very quickly, and was well respected for my views and ideas and received public recognition in the media.
“Having said that, I do feel very comfortable displaying my Muslim identity on Twitter and in the world; however like all Muslims, this is not my only identity. I am also a proud northerner, first time parent, passionate baker, foodie, techie, NHS supporter, radio 4 fanatic, and a budding professional in my field. Somehow a “real face image” of me as my profile picture (with a hijab/headscarf) would just scream “Muslim” to others and not all if the other things that are so much part of my make up too. I suppose because I cannot convey my complete self with a real face photo of me; I prefer to leave my words and thoughts to convey my inner self. That is until society and people can see “me” and accept me beyond my head gear (and faith), which I am hopeful will be very soon!”