courtesy of Google search
We're all familiar with the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words." While images may speak volumes, they do not say the same thing to every person. For example, one person may see a commercial with a woman dressed in what the world considers to be "sexy" clothing and see that woman as strong and self confident while another viewer of the same ad will see that woman as being exploited. Another example is that one person may see an image of a woman adorned in the color pink and think of the singer "Pink"; another person will think of the organization "Code Pink; yet another person will think of breast cancer awareness; and still another will think of the co-Founder of the Christian network TBN, Jan Crouch. In essence, each new image that we see is perceived in the context of our personal libraries of information and experience. So while I believe that there are some "universal truths", I also believe that, as humans, our perception of images, events and the actions of others are always subjective. As my friend Penny once brilliantly related in a blog post, our perception of the world around us is always filtered through the lens of our personal experience.
Since I am not a psychiatrist or sociologist, this blog post is not an attempt to write a thesis on the subject of human perception. This blog post is simply about why I use avatars, instead of my own photo, in social media.
While my friends know why I use avatars, instead of a photo of myself on my social media profiles, I thought that I'd take a moment to share this with those of you who are reading my blog for the first time.
Here are the avatars that I have most frequently used and a very brief explanation of why I have or still do use them.
While most of my avatars are a reflection of my personal journey toward spiritual wholeness and career fulfillment, I also use my avatars to inspire my friends and those who connect with me on social media. Obviously I can not, nor do I wish to control what each individual sees or how they interpret the meaning of images. However, it is important to me that those of you with whom I connect online, do not confuse my message with someone else's
The very first avatar that I used was the black butterfly. If you've ever heard the 70s song by the singer Deniece Williams you'll know why.
I've also used an avatar of a butterfly struggling to emerge from it's cocoon. For me that avatar represented the life passages that we all go through as we move from one stage to another. For me, the past decade was a passage of evolving from my mother's daughter to my mother's caregiver. In many respects, the daughter had to become the parent. The cocoon also represented a time of great spiritual, personal and financial struggle for me, as I gave up the security of a well paying career that identified me as "a success" in the eyes of the world, to become a full-time family caregiver, a role which I discovered, the world holds in low regard.
During most of 2012, I used the avatar of the monarch butterfly as a symbol of a woman who has now discovered her worth, not as defined by society, but defined by how God sees me and how I see myself. It also represented both the need to fly free and my personal feelings of vulnerability. Those of you who know anything about butterflies know just how fragile their wings are. There is a strange irony in the fact that almost everyone seems to appreciate the beauty of butterflies but many people fail to recognize just how critical they are to food production. Butterflies, bees & birds pollinate the food crops on which we as humans depend. Sadly, monarch butterflies are an endangered species. This is pretty much how I felt at times during 2012 and buying a gun or adopting or dog was not the answer.
This year I've been using the coffee drinking bumble bee as my avatar. For me this avatar symbolizes a person who is wide awake and ready to achieve the impossible. According to the natural laws of physics, bumblebees are not supposed to be able to fly. Their bodies are too big and their wings are too small. But every day bumblebees defy the rules and fly anyhow. I guess God never told them that they couldn't. Initially, I was only going to use the bumblebee on the Twitter account which I primarily use to follow NASCAR, INDY and other forms of auto and horse racing. But the more that I thought about the fragile state of bee populations; the fact that bees defy the odds; how in the movie Transformers "Bumblebee" isn't the biggest or the strongest of the Autobots but he is Sam's friend and protector; and lastly how this little bumblebee loves coffee, I decided that this avatar really IS who I am in 2013.
My primary avatar, the pink dahlia, is almost a part of my company's business logo. For me, the pink dahlia symbolizes the strength, beauty and vulnerability of being a woman. Pink, to me, is also a symbol of peace and courage.
Of course, I am still a member of the squirrel posse. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, older, grayer, adapting to an ever changing environment but still getting in to mischief, especially when I dare to open my mouth and speak out for the things I believe. in general, surviving.
|photo courtesy of Animal Planet
That's why I use avatars. My life, and yours, are about a lot more than our outer appearances. Today, I hope that my avatars will inspire you to defy both the odds as well as others' perception of who you are.