‘People think with their eyes’

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We all must watch our visuals very carefully. How you present yourself offline is as important as how you present yourself online.

People think with their eyes and hear what they can see, as the authors of the book “You Inc.” once said. Visuals are powerful and when used carefully and strategically, overwhelm the verbal.

Technology has allowed us to show ourselves visually to hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people every day, and this has both positive and negative effects.

Some of the positive sides include: You now have the ability to produce a personal brand like never before. As long as you present yourself visually in a way people want to perceive you, I bet that you will profit from it.

Hey, a CEO just can’t present himself on Facebook constantly wearing a pair of flip-flops or Hawaiian shirts. Remember: People believe and trust what they see.

The way you present yourself in social media visually has a tremendous impact on how others perceive you outside of cyberspace. I know it is crazy, but people form opinions about who you are based on what they see. Image is almost everything. We might as well better understand the impacts of it in order to better position ourselves.

Some of the negatives are clear-cut: People today are overwhelmed with information. The majority of  us have a Facebook page, some of us have a Twitter account, and some have an Instagram or even a Snapchat presence.

We are present everywhere, and just as important, we are advertising ourselves visually all the time, believe it or not. Technology has now infused itself into your personal life to “help” others form ideas about you, based on what they perceive in social media. Let me share with you a test I did recently.

For 1 1/2 weeks, I decided to change my wardrobe at work to gauge students’ reactions to seeing me dressed in a way contrasted with how I present myself in social media. I didn’t wear anything extravagant. I didn’t have a suit or one of my fancy bow ties. I was dressed with what I like to call “a preppy look,” with dress shoes, professional pants, a formal dress shirt with a fine tie and a fancy vest. Oops, let’s not forget my fancy socks, or what my wife often refers to as, “Crazy Luis’ Socks.” I dressed differently, yes.

This is what I found: Most of the students didn’t change their behavior toward me much, which in itself is an interesting finding which proves to me that they are pretty genuine people.

A couple of them noticed a “change” in Dr. A simply by what they could see. Let me tell you: I didn’t make any changes to my persona. It was just an impression. But hey, we are creatures of habit. When things change, people tend to notice. I don’t think that this will ever change, regardless of how much technology we have in our society.

All this technology has changed people’s perceptions about how people should look based on how they see you online. How one chooses to dress often triggers a stereotype.

Facebook is a visual platform; therefore, stereotypes will be formed and some thoughts about you and me will be shared based on how you look. The way we present ourselves in real life is now tied to how people imagine us in social media, as crazy as this may sound. We need to realize that, move on, and not look back.

People are going to judge you with their eyes, not with their hearts, in this life. Technology is complicating this by enforcing the idea that what is shown online is a reflection of who you are offline.

I don’t like this idea that people “know” others by what they “see” in social media, because  social media so obviously often lacks context. Remember: Not everybody behaves in social media the way that they behave in real life.

We need to be careful with assumptions. However, people will judge others based on what they see. In the age of technology, we all need to be more accustomed to that.

——— (Article Previously Published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info). 

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