I changed my avatar today. It was a huge deal for me. Why? Oh here’s why:

I’ve had my avatar pretty much since I started college. I took it during my freshman year and it’s been my default avatar on nearly every place I go on the internet ever since. It’s my identity here. Weird, I know, but since I really only started to take the internet seriously once I got to college (it was just an insomnia-inducing hobby before that), it’s really the only one I’ve ever used.

I know that when other people change their avatars it takes me a while to get used to them. I think avatars are a huge part of internet-based interaction and over the years I’ve come to associate certain avatars with certain people. It’s their stand-in for when I can’t see them in person to talk to them. But, this isn’t anything new…

I’ve known for a while now that I needed a new avatar. I don’t look like my avatar anymore and it’s 3 years old. I gave a new one a shot on Twitter, but it was taken with my iPhone and wasn’t really what I wanted. After taking some shots of my haircut today as required by my mom whenever I get it cut away from home, I realized that I should probably just try to take a new avatar photo while I was at it. 80 shots later, I had a decent range to pick from. But I couldn’t make a decision. I picked my top six and sent them to some trusted friends:

I got some differing opinions, but most were for the top, right. After Alex pointed out what had been bothering me about the bottom left (the smile doesn’t look as real), I was set on the top right. After some minor tweaks (it was looking kind of yellow), I was ready to upload. At least in terms of the photo. I wasn’t emotionally ready to click the “Upload” button just yet. Especially not on Flickr. I seriously felt like I was cheating on myself! Like I was officially acknowledging that I’m growing up. I felt like I was about to turn my back on the avatar that had treated me so well.

Imagine that! Feeling sorry and somewhat apprehensive about changing an image! That’s what made me blog this. Because it just blew my mind that I had become so attached to this “identity” online and that I was nervous about replacing some PIXELS! Absurd. But I did it. It had to be done. And I’m happy about this new one. I think it’s accurate and shows that I’m no longer 18 years old. As Natalie pointed out oh so painfully today, “well. we’re old. / jenn, you’re in your MID TWENTIES… / after this bday i mean.” I perish the thought.

So that’s the story of my new avatar. Somewhat boring, somewhat pathetic, but quite telling of how I’ve managed to get myself so embedded in this series of tubes that something as simple as changing the tiny image that appears next to my username caused such a ruckus.

Here’s to my old avatar. It lived a long, fulfilled life.

Goodbye, old friend.

Jenn's Avatar (2005 - 2009)

Hello new beginning. :)

Jenn's Avatar (Feb 2009)