Cross-cultural analysis of MySpace profile pictures
Posted on by Jason Li
Let’s do a fun little exercise.
Let’s compare profile pictures of MySpace.cn’s China and international users.
Note, however, that we hold the international users classification on MySpace.cn suspect — the one profile link that DID work (for me) in the international profiles section led to a white American woman who’s profile didn’t hint at any interest in China.
First off, let’s take a look at the international lineup:
We’re going to dub these as:
- Vacation Cool,
- Hot Or Not,
- I Have Friends.
Next up, the China lineup:
And we dub these:
- Webcam Candid,
- Photoshop + Webcam Candid.
Granted, I refreshed the page a few times to select ones I found interesting but we can already draw some generalizations about profile pictures:
- Chinese users do not feel compelled to present a “realistic” glamor shot. That is, they have little hesitation in using image manipulation programs to augment their picture. (This augmentation being different from using Photoshop to doctor up an existing picture within the bounds of realism.)
- Chinese users have lower standards for their glamor shot — blurry and what i called candid webcam shots are in.
- Closeups are in in China. Staring at the camera, however, is not.
7 comments on “Cross-cultural analysis of MySpace profile pictures”
I Don’t think it is so surprising that the types of photos posted on myspace.com vs. myspace.cn differ so much. In general, most of the people i have met online in China access the web still through internet cafes and all of their pictures tend to come from web-cams available in these cafes. You have alot more freedom with a digital camera to take not only high-quality shots, but shots where you are not sitting down in front of a computer! There are definitely some cultural differences too in the style’s of pictures and poses people use. It will be interesting to see how those change over time- will they become more “Western” or “Japanese?” Or will they tend to become more unique in their own way? Just my thoghts..
Interesting point about the internet cafes — I hadn’t thought of that!
Take this a step further: I know from personal experience that many (most?) Chinese women tend to use glamor photos on sites such as AsiaFriendFinder. The photos are often digitized professional photos, often having little resemblance to how a woman really looks. In essence, the total opposite of a webcam photo.
Guess it depends on one’s objective. Matter of fact, only an idiot would use a webcam photo when their collective “competition” are using digitized professional photos, although some still do this — but usually only those with a free membership.
Awesome comparison. I, admittedly, was addicted to myspace when I first signed up. Even though I outwardly tell everyone I’m of the “I don’t care about my photo” camp, I am extremely particular about what photo to put up.
The one category I’d add to the myspace.com list is the compulsory self-portrait mirror shot. Nearly every profile has one displayed at some point.
Oh, and the other thing I just thought of. I wonder why Chinese users do not use their own travel shots?
Everytime you go anywhere remotely touristy in China there are HOARDS of people having their photos taken in front of pagodas, temples, trees, lakes, Buddhas, statues, big rocks, flowers, Spring Festival decorations, etc. I have observed they even have set poses. Men often put their arms at their sides and look sort of serious. Girls do lots of different poses, coy, cute, hands up in the air, jazz hands, everything.
I usually have a difficult time taking photos at places of interest because everyone and their mother (literally) wants their photo in front of it.
Thanks for the comments. Self-portrait mirror shot = glamour self-portrait shot? Or directly looking into camera…?
True, I’ve seen a few People In Front of Scenary shots, but not as a cohesive trend (and keep in mind I’m doing this very haphazardly :)).