In Vox Day’s latest post at Alpha Game, Delta Face, he treats the subject of Brandon Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla. Vox is anything but complimentary. Including a picture from wikipedia of Eich in the post, this is what he had to say in his initial paragraph:
No one who saw this picture and understands Game was even remotely surprised by the way the Mozilla debacle played out over the last week. Human socio-sexuality is visible to the naked eye; just look at the soft features, the large, teddy-bearish frame, and most important, the uncertain, ready-to-please smile.
Vox continues to go on about how Eich is a Delta in Vox’s own socio-sexual hierarchy, and how other ranks would have reacted in the same situation that Eich faced. While interesting as speculation, that isn’t what drives this post.
Rather, I wanted to briefly echo the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It really is true, and in fact pictures might be worth far more than just a thousand words. They can convey an awful lot, whether we intend to or not. This is something I have become particularly aware of since I found this part of the ‘net. If you aren’t careful, a poor picture of oneself can make those who view it believe you are something other than what you are. Or it can reveal a truth about you that you didn’t intend to reveal.
Here is the photo that Vox was using as the basis for his post:
Now, I have never met Brandon Eich. At least, that I can remember. I’ve met a lot folks over the years, so who knows? I certainly don’t recall any meeting though, so will treat him as an unknown. So I don’t know what he is really like in person. But if all that I had to go on of him was this picture, well… it just isn’t very favorable.
Its not that he is ugly or anything. Or that he seems like an unpleasant person. Or lazy or a bum or anything like that. But his smile is simply awful.
It is tepid.
That really gets to the heart of it. Eich’s smile here is completely unmasculine. Without knowing more about him, I would evaluate him as the kind of guy who would buckle when the going gets tough. Of course, I knew that about him before I saw the picture. But if I had seen the picture beforehand, I would have guessed that he would do what he eventually did.
Of course, he might not have been that way at all. He could have just been at the dentist earlier, and so his mouth was sore and his smile was awkward as a result. Or maybe the picture was taken in some other circumstance that would explain away such a weak smile. But I don’t know that, and neither does anyone else who sees that picture. It conveys weakness, whether he realizes it or not, and whether he intends it or not.
Compare that photo with this one:
[Edit: This has been suggested as a better picture. I included it originally in the comments, but have moved it here:
For those curious, it is Sean Connery as James Bond.]
Quite a bit of difference, right? Does anyone get that same impression of weakness and indecisiveness that was present in the first photo? I don’t. Again, I don’t know this guy. Never met him, probably never will. He could be the very worst White Knigh to ever live. But this photo conveys the impression of a suave guy who is in control of his life, and won’t bend or break easily. And this is due not to his looks, but the expression on his face. For those inclined to use the word “Alpha” when describing a man, this would fit the bill. He carries himself as an “Alpha”, whereas Eich carries himself as (in Vox’s terminology) a “Delta.”
So what is the point of all of this?
Well, I have had some pretty awful pictures of me taken in my life. Some that I hope are lost and gone forever. Because as I look back on them, I realize how utterly unmanly I was in them. This is something that I think all men need to be careful of. If we want to provide a good impression of ourselves, good photographs matter, a lot. You will be judged by your demeanor, and you shouldn’t forget that.
So if anyone tells you to smile, and they don’t like the cocky grin that you give in reply, too bad for them. Hold your ground, and tell them that it is how you smile. If they have a problem with it, it is their problem, not yours.
If pictures are going to speak for you (and they will, whether you like it or not), don’t let them speak poorly.