What do WhatsApp DPs and status messages convey?

I was speaking to my friend, and she asked me about my DP. That day my DP of her was that of an Upma I had made. Of course, I turned into a display of my half-baked intellectualism by making it an example of everything from simplicity to diversity to fusion. For this, I used the status message for conveying my thoughts.

Diversity is = sourdough bread upma with olive oil, green chillies, turmeric, and international micro herbs ie, Basil, mint & curry leaves. This set me thinking about the visuals and words in what these DPs are meant to convey. It was Henrik Ibsen, the famous Norwegian playwright, who first said, “A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed”. This has been truncated, plagiarized and butchered into various well-meaning versions which imply that a picture is worth a thousand words. Of course, the absence of pictures also reveals something. What does it reveal?

A few psychologists have also weighed in on this aspect and though I acknowledge the wisdom of that profession, I am unable to name each of them. However, what it does reflect is “Self-Presentation.” This is described as “The process by which individuals communicate an image to others. “ C Yang, B Bradford Brown – Journal of youth and adolescence, 2016 -Springer (While there may be some duplicity or charade involved, most often the intent is harmless. It does involve partial disclosures, trying to put one’s best face forward.

Sometimes, nothing other than the fact of your presence being obtrusive to that person.

Sometimes their favorite things – places, moods, persons or quotes. It makes you envious of their vacationing spots (could be an imaginary one too), their political leanings and opinions on all topics under the sun and the moon. What the status and profile mean is “Self-Presentation.”

There are a couple of attributes at work:

1. Self-display : Those who have the same unchanged picture of self are probably wanting to make sure that they are identified correctly. I came to this conclusion because on Facebook, I have often identified a friend with the help of the name + the right picture.

Then there are those posers and flaunters who change their DP with their own pictures very frequently. These are the attention seekers who have a lot of self-love. If taken to an extreme, they could be borderline narcissists. If the pictures are also intimate, there may be serious underlying issues of issues in self-esteem and anxiety about lack of interest or being out of the spotlight.

The number of WA users in the 50+ age categories has increased a lot in recent years. In fact, in a study done in Spain, the millennial use of WA was less than that by the 40+ age group. I believe that this is true in our part of the globe as well. I have often been asked by my millennial friends to become active on Insta if I want to reach them. Hence the self-presentation aspect, which is vital in adolescence, is now seemingly present across most age groups.

2. Busy: They could be projecting exclusiveness or just be scientists too focused on their research. It does show laser focus on their own pursuits. In my experience, there are people who are sporadic communicators who could become disconnected from any non-work-related social network.

3. Pictures of famous people: These are the people who dream through others. It is like the amazing feeling I had when Shreyas Iyer hit a century on his test debut though I do not know him at all and except for that floating high, it does not materially affect me. Dreaming through others.

4. Business orientation: I have a dear friend who is a baker whose DP is always the picture of a cake she has recently made. It reminds us of the cake and many a times, people have asked her to make one exactly like that. In this case, the DP can become like the shelf space extension for you.

5. Constant DP changers: I change my picture when I am bored. Hence it is possibly a sign of a restless nature added by having the time to spare Many people use famous lines from books, poems and even articles as their status message. I am definitely not immune to it at all. TSEliot, one of 20th century’s influential poets remains relevant even today. In 1915, he authored his famous poem “The Love song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and I quote a couple of lines from it.

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet

The potential power of how some of these modern media can be used is perhaps reflected in those two lines. The messages reflect how one wants to be perceived by others.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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