I joined twitter on 20th February 2009, three and a half years ago. (howlongontwitter.com)
At the time I was very skeptical; I had no idea of the effect twitter would have on my professional life or the wealth of contacts I would build up in my Personal Learing Network (PLN).
The cup of coffee lasted for about 6 months, until I met @vonprond at a conference in Galway. In fact, Ferdinand was the first person I followed on twitter. He commented that I looked completely unlike my image: he'd been expecting a large cup of coffee. I realised that my perceived anonymity did not exist and it would not be possible to separate my real life from my twitter existence.
Still being a shy individual and uncomfortable using my own photograph, I created an avatar representing myself using the Mad Men Yourself avatar generator. After a new haircut, this was further updated to my current image, which I've used for about 2 years.
I have been told that I look a little bit like my twitter image (or should that be the other way round?). I have even been recognised at conferences, twice. But it's clear that most people don't recognise me when they meet me in real life. I'm fairly comfortable with that. But, I wonder if I'm still hinding behind the avatar and is it prohibiting me from a deeper engagement with my PLN when I meet them in real life?
In some sense, my twitter persona is an alter-ego of myself. She says things in public that I would never say in a room full of people.
In the last year, or so, I've noticed more of my PLN using photos of themselves, and I'm wondering if it's time to change?
There's another issue. Having used this image for about 2 years, it has now become my "brand". The image, in itself, is recognisable to my followers, even if they don't associate it with the real-life me. Would I be wise to change it now?
And so, dear PLN, I put the question to you. Should I change my profile pic to a real image of myself, or not? Let me know what you think.