Your profile picture represents you. You want to convey that you're fun, interesting, well-traveled, worldly, witty, or any number of likable, desirable qualities. But we're also really predictable—our profile pictures can be boiled down into 14 specific categories.
Like the cover of a book or a movie trailer, your profile picture tells people what you're about and why you're about it. It's a chance for you to brag, and we've got you pegged.
Now, it's not to say any of these profile picture choices are wrong, although some might err on the annoying side. Look at your friend's profiles. Look at your own profile.
You probably fit into one of these 14 camps:
Recently engaged? Married? Blinded by the overwhelming power of love? This one is simple to spot. It's an engagement picture, perhaps a shot of a couple with arms around each other, with the girl's left hand securely placed in the he's mine just check out this rock position (left hand on chest).
You procreated! We know this because we see your spawn on your profile picture. And while we're all very happy for you and your baby are adorable, we're slightly confused and wondering if somehow you fell into a Benjamin Button situation.
This could be any number of things—a picture of you in a high school uniform, an adorable baby pic culled from your parents' photo albums—it's a dip back into the past.
Look, you already spent two weeks in Maui while the rest of us slogged through the winter. Do you have to rub it in our faces by changing your avatar to a shot of you lounging in white sands not working at all?
Sure, you love your pet as much as the next guy. But more, because your pet IS you. At least according to your profile picture.
DUDE. WHEN DID YOU HANG OUT WITH SNOOP DOGG, I MEAN LION?! Some use this profile picture as a setting to broadcast your famous connections. Or that you once touched someone who had a cameo in the third season of the West Wing.
You're hot. You're proud. You want to show off the goods to 1,000 of your closest friends. However, your picture feels slightly NSFW.
There's pretty much no way to make a selfie not look like a selfie. So you might as well embrace it and put your best self-composed shot forward.
Ohhh, are you a writer? A painter? Living the bohemian life? Just a guess because I see you're looking off into the distance from a bucolic cliff or you've photoshopped some kind of new aesthetic style picture.
The French Revolution. The end of Apartheid. None of these societal changes took place on Facebook. But today, Facebookers use their profile real estate to convey that he or she is a productive member of society who believes breast cancer is bad (pink ribbon), marriage equality is good (equal sign), and always commemorates national tragedies and natural disasters.
Wait, I didn't know you still played football. Hold on, didn't you get married 10 years ago? Your profile picture is confusing and does not reflect your current state. Please update, lest we think you're some kind of Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused character.
Listen, you look great. But we all know this isn't what you look like in person. Pro shots are just cheating.
Know how everyone knows you're a photographer? Your profile picture is a picture of you taking a picture. Replace photographer with job, add in an associated activity, and boom. You've got that person down pat.
There are a few key components to this profile picture: drink in hand, excited expressions, and possibly dancing. Interesting locations and Mardis Gras beads are bonus. All of these pieces come together to say hey, I'm hip, I'm cool, and I'm way more fun than you.
User Manual is Gizmodo's guide to digital etiquette and internet intelligence. It appears as if by magic every Friday.