Sunday, April 19, 2015


For the first time, I’ve seen on line the faces of some people whose voices I’ve been listening to for years. They’re radio announcers -- “DJs” on the local classical music station.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s amusing how different the mental picture I’ve formed can be from reality. 

One man I pictured mentally as an academic with a softly rounded face, it turns out, wears a beard and looks like one of those early National Geographic explorers. My impression of another as a somewhat older, business-suited gentleman is reasonably close physically but misses the part about being a scuba instructor and skydiver. I had previously seen a picture of another one and so might be able to pick him out of a crowd, but even there the hair was grayer and the beard thinner than the impression I retained in my mind.

It's made me wonder how that works in reverse. My writing is my voice, and so my identity. To the consternation of the site owners, I don’t publish a picture on my LinkedIn profile page. (Some people think, or profess to think, you may not be a real person if you don’t post a photo. I’m not sure what they suspect: multinational corporation? alien?)

I’ve tried to put some words in the spot where a photo usually appears, to explain why  there's no picture, but I haven’t managed to do it. If I could, there would be a box with the words, “I don’t think my mug shot will win me any business.” 

I might offer that idea, unsolicited, to some other people as well. Look at real estate agents. Even the most untrustworthy-looking puts his or her face in the ad, rather than showing the houses being offered. And you have to suspect that some of those pictures go back to high school yearbooks. How many would do it if, like me, they had only a current picture to show?

In any case, visitors to my profile page (there have been 11 in the three years) will still have to conjecture, if physiognomy is important to them. Those less interested in externals and more occupied with personality traits can have a field day with questions of their own.