June 23, 2024

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How old is too old for your profile pic?

2 min read

The other day, I met up with a work contact for coffee. I had never met her in person before, so I was a bit shocked when she turned out to be at least 15 years older than she appeared in her profile photo. The woman I had expected to meet was definitely younger than me and perhaps less experienced too — but in reality, she was clearly my senior in all senses. Had this disconnect been mutual, I wondered? When I got back to the office, I took a long hard look at my own byline portrait.

Taken back in 2016, it is from a more innocent era — before #MeToo, before Covid, before the world really began to fall apart — and, crucially, before I started having to dye my hair. I have kept it partly because the past seven years have whipped by in a flash and also because it is only now that I am ready to admit it’s a bit long in the tooth.

But, I pondered, by keeping an image of myself that is no longer entirely representative of the older, wiser, non-blow-dried me, am I doing myself a disservice? Keen to know if I was alone in this dilemma, I did a straw poll among colleagues and friends to find out how old their various profile pictures are, and how they feel about them.

It turns out that, in journalistic terms, and especially at the FT, where many staff see out their entire careers, seven years is nothing. One colleague looked a bit mystified when I asked how old his byline photo was. “Oh, not old at all,” he said. “About eight years?” Admittedly, the colleague in question has aged irritatingly well — his photo will do for at least another five years.

Another confided in an email: “I had my default byline picture done the day I started at the FT in 2008, three weeks after the collapse of Bear Stearns and two weeks after I became a father. It’s a terrible picture. I look ill (because I was ill), exhausted (because I…

2023-11-24 17:00:15

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