Still, the very sad incident reminded me of something else I had been meaning to discuss about a week ago when reading some comments to one of my jokey posts. I noticed that many people, myself included, when writing comments or replies tend to use little smiley faces indicating that they are sad :( or happy :) or confused :S or winking ;). It is so much harder to express your tone, emotion, intention through text alone. You want someone to know if you are being sarcastic, flippant, supportive, irritated, genuinely concerned... perhaps these silly symbols are our way of conveying all this when we are unable to so with our voice or expressions. Even photos cannot fully express the movement of a frown, or a wink.
Of course, there are those who post videos, have live chats and that sort of thing, all ways of making the writer seem more real to the reader. Is that what having an engaging blog is about? Seeming real? So, why are so many anony-bloggers, or for that matter, reclusive writers of famous novels, so successful?
Maybe there is an element of oneself which can be conveyed without photos or videos or even meeting someone in the flesh. I feel that when I am writing, even under the exceptionally silly name pretty face, a lot about me can still be gauged. I don't like to make my true name known because I don't want to be Google-able (which, you know, could present a problem once I'm a world-renowned celeb) and I don't put up 'complete' photos for a reason I can't fully understand myself, something to do with putting yourself on the Internet. But then, if there was a creepy pervert determined enough to create a full picture, they might be able to create a composite image of me from my hair, my legs, my eyes, my torso, my mouth, my feet, my hands. And with my writing, both of the pretty prosaic events of my everyday life - although I try not to write down exact details - and my feelings, wouldn't the emotional picture of me be even more complete?
It's a confusing topic, and one which I have spent a long time thinking about and still haven't reached a satisfactory conclusion. Until I do, I don't think I can be fully comfortable posting unobscured mug shots and neither can I feel strongly enough about maintaining anonymity to stop posting photos completely. Even if my amputated legs may look silly.