Pet Peeve #5: Shared Facebook Profile Photos

Disclaimer: There are readers of this blog that I know for sure have Facebook profile photos with more than one person in the photo. I’m not targeting any of you, but I fully expect you to defend yourselves in the comments. This is tongue in cheek, so I hope it doesn’t come across as too harsh.

Now this I'm okay with.

I have a message for all you delightful couples out there: You and your mate are two people. You may share your life, but you are still two people. So why in the world are you both in the profile photo for your Facebook page?

And you, person who has friends who insisted on squeezing into your photos: Save those photos for anywhere but your profile photo. Your profile photo is for people to identify you, not your friends. I’ve seen profiles on in which every photo has more than one interchangeable blonde in every photo, and I literally don’t know which person is the one on Match.

But it’s the couples that I really don’t get. Even though you are in love or dating or married, you are still separate people. Your husband doesn’t share your high school friends or your love of Lady Ga-Ga or Grey’s Anatomy. And you don’t share your husband’s bass fishing hobby or birthday or job. Let him have his own profile–and with it, his own photo–and you can have your own too.

This is something that I really, truly do not understand. I mean, your name is right there at the top of your profile: John Peterson. That’s your name. But right below it you have a photo with two people in it. You, John Peterson, are not two people. If you think you are, that’s a whole separate issue.

I’ll be honest: I’ve seen this a lot more on female profiles. Women, can you explain? Is this a possessive thing? Do you consider your profile photo the same as a family photo? Because it’s not. It’s just not. I’m sure your boyfriend/husband is wonderful, and he’s a huge part of your life, but you are still you and he is still he. When you update your status on Facebook or Like something, it’s you, it’s not him. But you know what everyone else sees? They see your face and his face Liking the same link.

Writing this has riled me up more than I thought it would. I need to take it down a notch. I’ll have Biddy fetch me some herbal tea.

57 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #5: Shared Facebook Profile Photos”

  1. HA! For years, I was adamantly in your camp about this issue. I would never have dreamed it acceptable to have a profile photo with more than me. And then I realized it’s just a preference, and other people have different preferences. And it just might make my mom’s day to have my profile photo be her and me at the zoo. And that my fiance had actually been wishing I would put him in there for years. So while I still aim to keep my picture just me most of the time, does backing down to make someone else happy make me a monster? I hope not!

    I think this comes down to your purpose on a given site. On, I firmly agree with you that there is no reason to include anyone else, you’re there to show who you are, period. (And what does it say about the people who are including others on a site where you’re supposed to be single?) For me, on Facebook, it’s just a way to share pictures and links and whatnot with friends. How many people are “finding” me and needing to identify me by my profile picture? I don’t think that many, and I sort of don’t care that much if it’s a little bit tough because my purpose there isn’t to vastly, quickly, efficiently expand my network.

    • I was about to write something similar to Emma O’s second paragraph, but I figured I’d just give her credit for saying it first. Match/dating site: must be you. No questions asked. Facebook? I just want to share some photos & catch up with old friends who could easily distinguish me from my wife.

      As a side note/second point, some of us aren’t as dashingly good looking in photos as “Jamey Stegmaier in 19 slides”. Sometimes the photo I look best in has someone else in it.

      Much like most people don’t share my intense hatred for lettuce in tacos, I acknowledge but do not share your disdain for multiple people in a Facebook photo. I do, however, highly advocate getting potbellied pigs into photos whenever possible.

      • I don’t have much to add to this discussion, as I’m not on Facebook for various reasons, but I wanted to let you know that you are not alone in your hatred of lettuce on tacos. There are many delicious taco toppings out there, but lettuce is definitely not one of them! 🙂

        • Awesome! I’ve told many people that if I could go back in history and kill one person, I’d find that first person who put lettuce on a taco, and I’d go eliminate him/her. Even if I ended up in some Aztec prison (or worse), it’d be a sacrifice I’d be willing to make for the good of all humanity.

          • I’m going to try to contact Doc Brown for you, because this is finally a worthwhile use of a time machine. Lettuce on tacos is the worst! (Lettuce on pretty much anything other than a salad is the worst, what’s the point of lettuce?)

            ps. I don’t think the Aztecs had “prisons,” they just had sticks with decapitated heads on them, but it would still be worth it.

            pps. Thanks T-Mac for giving us something interesting to think/talk about instead of Jamey’s lame pet-peeve.

            • I didn’t know there were so many people who were anti-lettuce-in-tacos! I’d make this a new pet peeve, but I have to say that I’m not all that annoyed by it. Taco Bell does put way too much lettuce in their tacos, though. I’ll give you that.

              • Let us have lettuce!

                I like lettuce in my tacos, thank you very much. It and small tomato slice provide a cool and refreshing counter to the savory and hot taco meat.

                And now I wish I had a fresh taco for lunch.

      • Trev–First, most of the time I can’t distinguish you from your wife. Even in person.

        Second, it’s true, sometimes you have a great photo with someone else in it. But I’d disagree with Christine here–I think you can crop your face out of the photo for your profile photo and then include the full photo in your albums on Facebook.

        Third, your hatred for lettuce in tacos is legendary. That may be the best use of time travel ever.

      • Trev, I don’t know what Jamey is talking about. Your wife is obviously the rugged looking strong one, since she puts up with your whiny disdain for lettuce on tacos. Pfff!

        At least with couples pictires, I can usually tell who’s who. I have a bigger issue with you and all of your friends in one profile picture (your Match issue). If I’m creeping your facebook account, I don’t know if you’re the hot one, or the other ones! History has taught me to assume that you’re one of the other ones. So I’m not going to ask to be your friend, because you’re crazier than me for thinking I’m going to mistake you for your hot friend (is that circular logic?).So, it sounds like I’m most in alignment with Bryce.

        I also don’t mind if you’ve got Daisy Duck as your profile, because I know for a fact that Daisy Duck does not live in Bevo. However, I am aggrivated with pictures from when you were a kid. General rule, if this picture is going to be up for more than a week, you must still own/fit into the clothes in your picture!

        Followup Questions. How do you feel about the sonogram picture? And how often should I change my picture? My Answers: I’m for ’em. And at most every month, at least every 6 months.

        • Red: I like your hot/crazy theory. It’s pretty solid.

          How often do you get sonograms?

          I haven’t changed my profile photos in years. I’m not against it, but if I did, I’d want to keep the red background so people could “recognize” me if they’re skimming down the page and say, “Hey, that’s the guy who dilutes soda when he drinks it.”

        • I really have nothing to say about shared Facebook pictures. Mine is currently a lovely picture of me and my mother. If you can’t tell us apart, high-five to Mom.

          But I’m totally with Trevor on the taco thing. Lettuce on any kind of hot food is just nasty.

          Carry on.

        • Oh I hate the sonogram photo! Unless you’ve started a preemptive fb page for your baby-to-be, there’s just no need for that on your profile! Put it on your wall–duh, that’s what wall photos are for.

    • Emma–It’s a fair point (one that others have expressed) that it comes down to personal preference. As Christine says below, not everyone uses their Facebook profile as their online representation of themselves (although I’d argue that whether you like it or not, your Facebook profile IS your online representation of yourself).

      When you go to the DMV to get your driver’s license photo taken, you don’t go with your boyfriend or parents or friends or baby or pets. It’s just you in that photo, the photo that is the representation of yourself on the road and at bars. Facebook is so vast and widely used that it is a person’s online representation of themselves.

      That’s a good point that people aren’t identifying you on Facebook through your photo–if they’re friending you, they know who you are. But I think you can “share pictures and links and whatnot” with friends on Facebook without using your main profile photo for that purpose.

      But to each her own. 🙂

      • I think you’re right that it IS a representation of yourself, and although 75% of the time, I think it should be me and only me, 25% of my time I use it as a gift (and doesn’t it still represent me and perhaps tell even more about me?) to others because it will make them happy or promote a cause or what have you.

        I am reminded of AIM and AOL icons, and those were initially ONLY available as other photos, graphics, clip art, etc and then evolved to be self-photos. Facebook started as photos of self and has now really seemed to expand (although culturally, not because of technology restriction) to be almost anything.

        I guess at the end of the day, to each his own. Logically, yes it should be the one person only. But the interesting thing about social media is that people take the base structures and suggestions and push the boundaries. And any of us are allowed to be frustrated or annoyed by differences in personal preferences, but there is no right or wrong or should (even though I said should in this reply) because social media is user-driven and controlled and people can do whatever they want, period.

        • “the interesting thing about social media is that people take the base structures and suggestions and push the boundaries.”

          Okay, now you’re talking my language. I can support that.

  2. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it until the madness stops, the profile pictures of their kids or their pets drive me insane. This is even more of a Facebook sin than doubling up. I think the order of offense goes, an opposite sex spouse, a same sex other in the picture, a celebrity, their kids, their pet. There should be a proportional punishment, I’m just not sure what that is.

    • I’ll get to the other comments in a bit, but I totally forgot about profile photos with babies! I don’t even know why they bug me so much. I mean, it’s clear that the person is not the baby and that the baby is not sharing his/her thoughts on the Grammy’s in status updates. But it’s just weird that a person might represent themselves as “John and baby” instead of just John as soon as he has a baby. Yes, the baby is a wonderful addition to your life. But you’re still John! You still get to be John!

      • As long as they aren’t giving a play-by-play of potty training in their status updates (which is my biggest Facebook pet peeve), I don’t care if they make their profile picture a photo of their baby.

  3. The couple photos, kid photos, and pet photos don’t really bother me. But a couple’s joint Facebook account certainly does. [Example – Cathy’n Mike (maiden name) (married name)] Do you have any friends that have done this? I have a few.

    I don’t know if it’s the concept of a joint account or the use of the ‘n that bothers me so much, but I find it super annoying and at the same time kind of hilarious.

    • Denise–Oh, the joint account! I just stumbled across one of those the other day and was like, what the hell is this?

      I think if a couple really wants to share their viewpoints on something–as a couple–they should start a group on Facebook that just includes the two of them. That way they can continue to independently express their opinions on Facebook via their own accounts, or they can post on the group for things they share.

  4. While reading this post, I was wondering why you’d singled out joint photos and didn’t touch on people who have babies/celebrities/other in their profiles pictures. It’s the same problem, if not worse.

    I agree with @Emma, it boils down to how you’re using the site. Most people on Facebook aren’t using their profiles for identification as much as they are for self expression. Sometimes those profile photo changes are in support of something—do you know how many of my Wisconsin friends have Green Bay Packers players as their profile pictures right now? A lot. Other times I learn that a distant friend just had a baby or just got engaged by their profile photo of their child or their engagement ring. Or maybe I learn that friend just went to China with her husband from her profile photo of them in front of the Great Wall? I like those quick updates and if it’s in a profile photo I didn’t need to go to their profile to learn that life update. Most people keep Facebook limited to just friends and your friends already know what you look like, so why not use your profile photo to communicate more?

    I also agree with @T-Mac’s comment that sometimes the photo you look good best in has someone else in it. I don’t like photos that clearly chop out someone else’s head (don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it, but I don’t like it). I keep my profile photo to just me, but I don’t have a problem with people using it for other purposes.

    • Christine–Yeah, I didn’t realize I had forgotten the babies until after I wrote the post. As for celebrities, I think people do that to show off. Doesn’t justify it, though.

      I responded to your other points in comments above. I think you have an interesting point about using your profile photo to communicate who you’re with or where you’ve been…I think there should be a way to do that, but it should not be your profile photo. Maybe a “featured photo,” but not the profile photo.

  5. Jamey,

    You probably won’t understand this dilemma because you’ll have no personal experience that will relate and thus empathy will be impossible. But when I post a picture of myself in any public forum the mere image of my face creates such a fervent (even sometimes violent) attraction in women (and by this I mean ALL women, both strangers and known) that the solicitations I have to endure are nearly unbearable. So its easier for me to just put a picture of me with my wife to quell some of the enthusiasm that my picture generates.

    But seriously, if someone looks at my facebook page they are doing so to answer the question, “what’s up with Bryce?” Well, “what’s up with me” is that I’m happily married to a beautiful girl and that’s what I’m trying to portray in my profile pic. When my daughter is born later this year “what’s up with me” will be “I’m a new dad” and I will likely feature a picture of me and my daughter (and probably my wife as well). I think this is perfectly appropriate and I don’t really see your point at all.

    Now I do agree with you that its annoying if the picture is ONLY the baby and not the person who’s profile it is (or really anytime the profile pic does not feature the person…a Green Day logo or a beautiful sunset is just as bad as a baby pic), but I think as long as the person is featured and distinguishable, then its fine. Now as previous posters have mentioned is a totally different story.

    ps. I will admit that several years ago “what’s up with me” was that I had recently hung-out with (read: shook-hands with) Kirk Herbstreit and I portrayed as much in my profile pic for a period and I don’t have a problem with that either!

    • Bryce: First, I appreciate you helping out the other men of the world by letting women know you’re taken.

      Second, you have a good point, but I disagree. When I look at a profile photo, I don’t think, “What’s up with Bryce?” I think: “That’s Bryce.” If I want to know what’s up with Bryce, I look at his recent albums or status updates.

      Third, I hear you about profile photos that don’t even include the person’s face.

  6. wow – I have nothing worthwhile to contribute except to add my name to the “I seriously dislike profile pictures with anything other than the person to whom the profile belongs’ pile. I even dislike when individuals use their own baby pictures. You don’t look like that now. And seriously, if you haven’t taken a good picture since you were 6 months old – maybe you shouldn’t be on FACEbook.

    And since I added nothing to this discussion, I will pose a few questions:
    1. How do people feel about tagging album photos with a name when that photo does not actually contain tagged person?
    2. There were a run of ‘change your facebook photo to ____ in honor of _____’ days in which individuals put up other photos for just one day. For example, I think there was a celebrity look alike day. Is that acceptable?
    3. What about changing your facebook picture to the flier or logo for a charitable cause to raise awareness?

    • Ariel: This is an awesome quote: “if you haven’t taken a good picture since you were 6 months old – maybe you shouldn’t be on FACEbook.” (emphasis on “FACE”)

      My answers:

      1. Not a fan. Not at all.
      2. Eh. Maybe. If just for a day. But a lot of people forget to change them back.
      3. Perhaps. But I think there are other more effective ways of raising awareness.

  7. This is an interesting pet peeve. Not b/c I agree or disagree, but b/c you feel so strongly about the issue. Not that I think you should or should not. Rather, it makes me feel better about those issues about which I feel very strongly but other people don’t see why on earth I care. Now I’m trying to think of an example of something I feel strongly about, but others don’t and I can’t. Rats.

    My profile picture is usually shared and that’s b/c I’m incredibly insecure. I hardly ever allow a picture of just me to be taken, so most of my pictures in which I don’t think I resemble a cave troll usually have another person in them. It’s also a way of deflecting attention away from me. I think this is okay b/c I have my Facebook profile pretty private. You can’t search for me, but if we have a mutual friend, you can see me on their Friends List and request me. If we do not share mutual friends, you have a much harder time finding me. So if you find me, you probably know which one in the picture is me.

    Interestingly enough, my shared picture doesn’t usually include Boyfriend b/c while I don’t mind shared pictures at all, I really don’t care for couple ones all that much. Not sure why. Therefore, while I have a few of Boyfriend & I, many of my shared pictures are of my nephew(s) and me or little brother and me. That means, I see their cute faces when I log in, instead of just my own. I know some people who see those may think I have children, but if they think that then we’re clearly not very close so I don’t care.

    I do think that a profile picture should most definitely have the person in it somewhere. Don’t make it a logo, a cartoon, a famous “doppelganger” (what a sad week for people last year where they CLEARLY had high opinions of themselves or were being insulted and didn’t realize it), or anything else that is not you. And oh my gosh all the pictures of flowers and the “I love you”s on profiles yesterday was revolting.

    Oh I thought of something that bothers me that others don’t care about as much! It drives me absolutely bonkers when someone takes the spot in which I’ve been parking for a year, or when people would be 8 weeks into a class and decide to sit in the desk I claimed on the first night of class. Why that first parker or classmates decides to stray from his or her usual spot, knowing that it throws off the rest of the group is beyond me.

    • Emily: I surprised myself that I felt so strongly about this! I had no idea until I started writing! 🙂

      So I’m curious about why you wouldn’t include your boyfriend in your profile photos even though relatives are okay. Let me know if you figure out that reasoning, as it might support my case. 🙂

      As for the parking pet peeve, I definitely experienced that at my old job. It’s odd how quickly we decide that a parking space is “ours.” But I totally understand!

  8. At first when I read the “Shared Facebook Profile Photos” headline, I thought you meant the granddaddy of all confusing profile situations, when two people (usually couples, sometimes friends) have the exact same profile picture, so it’s hard to visually track who’s who when you’re friends with both of them. (And when they both post or reply to the same thread, it’s like you’re being attacked by an army of Facebook clones!!!)

    While I can’t say I’m a shared profile pic advocate it doesn’t really wrankle me that much. Especially when an event just happened that somebody wants to share with the world. For example, if you just got married/engaged, why not post a picture of you and your sweetie pie together? If you just went on an awesome trip to Timbuktu and have a great photo of you and your friend in front of the city’s coolest Starbucks, go ahead post it. When life is “back to normal,” though, I do like it when people go back to some version of themselves as their Facebook representation.

    In the end, however, knock yourself out and use that little online window into your world as a form of self-expression. Whether I know who you are in real life or not, your profile pic is not going to change that.

    • Bob: Thank you, for one, for teaching me that “wrankle” is a word. I’m definitely using that.

      I’m still not convinced by the argument that if you have something to share, you should use your profile photo to do so. There are so many other ways to share stuff!

    • The double pic IS confusing. My sister and BIL both have a couple pic of themselves, so more than once I’ve actually replied to BIL thinking it’s my sister! And then I’m left wondering why she isn’t replying to me about my latest comments on Vampire Diaries and slightly annoyed, so I go back to see if she replied and finally realize that it wasn’t ever her. Super annoying.

  9. I just realized this is pet peeve #5 and ROFL was pet peeve #18. I Presumed the numbers represented the order of posting, but clearly not. Do you have a list pre-made of your top 100 pet pleases and pet peeves? Or are the numbers random?

  10. All right, if no one else does it. I will.

    Who died and made you Andy Rooney? (Don’t worry, Andy Rooney is still alive, according to wikipedia)

    You don’t like my picture with my wife. Fine. I don’t like your picture with red background, or your pointy hair.

    Frankly, if you are going to put a picture up, it should be professionally done. You should wear a suit, or a tux. It should be high resolution too. I mean, “Facebook is so vast and widely used that it is a person’s online representation of themselves.” Don’t you think you could look better Jamey? Maybe some makeup, professional photographer, and some airbrushing? How far should you go if its your “online representation” of yourself.

    Perhaps our profile picture is a personal statement of who or what is important to us in our life or at the moment. A picture of my wife, or my family, or my sports team may just be an expression of what is most important to me. Should I have a problem if you put up a picture of you and Biddy? Isn’t Biddy important to you? So why not include a picture that tells more about you than just what you look like. I already know what you look like. I think I can identify which being goes with the name.

    While this may be an online representation, for many of us, it is simply a way to stay connected to people we know. So my picture might not exactly detail what I look like, but for me, the people who are looking at my profile, already have a good idea what I look like. When they see my profile picture, perhaps they learn something that is important to me. If they want to see a picture of just me, they could find that on my photos too.

    So put simply, you would prefer that people conform to your interpretation of what a profile picture should be?

    Careful what you ask for Andy.

    • I’m not sure who Andy Rooney is, but I bet he doesn’t share his Facebook profile photo with anyone.

      A couple things: One, for getting a profile photo professionally done…I guess so? I don’t get my driver’s license photo done professionally, though. Nor do I let other people crowd into my driver’s license photo.

      You talk about your profile photo in terms of “us” as if your Facebook profile isn’t just yours–it’s yours and your wife’s. I think that’s where we differ. My profile is my own, even if I’m dating someone.

      Again–and please, someone explain this–if you want to tell people what’s important to you or where you’ve been lately or your favorite sports team, why can’t you just do that through your other photos or your status updates? That still allows you to have an “expression of what is most important to me,” as you say.

      This is what I’m getting at: When you walk around all day at work, you only have one face on your face. And it’s your face. It’s not your wife’s face or the Clemson tiger or all your drinking buddies. It’s just your face. Your Facebook profile photo is your virtual face. Just let it be your face.

      In the end, Vineet, I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just having a discussion here. And it’s been a good one–I appreciate you all indulging me. Do I wish for more synchronism between people’s real life faces and their Facebook faces? Sure. It’s easier for my mind to compute that when I’m talking to you on Facebook, I’m just talking to you and not your wife too. That’s how our brains work–our brains are built to recognize and store faces. But can I work past that? Of course.

      • You really don’t know Andy? You are missing out, you should you tube him.

        It comes down to what Facebook is. Is it an online profile and or something else? For you, it seems you use Facebook as a means to interact with that person. In interacting with them, you want it to be just them, not them and their wife, pet, or Andy Rooney. Therefore their profile picture should just be them. That way, when they comment, you can see who it is and not squint to figure it out (as opposed to reading the name, i guess)

        For me, I argue that what you desire, my face, is already in my picture. My wife’s presence should have little bearing on that interaction, but, again, it’s your issue not mine. I would argue that seeing my wife in my picture might give you more information than just my wife alone. If you want to see just a picture of me, you too can go to my photos and get that, which is why I don’t get why you have a problem with that. Most people have a real picture of themselves that you can access. You just prefer it to be more accessable.

        As a side note, I don’t actually have a picture with my wife on my profile. Facebook, while an online profile, is mostly just a tool for jealousy for me. I like to find out what other people are doing so that I can go do the same things. I also post pictures to make people jealous of me. That is just me personally.

        Finally, my newest pet peeve is that you don’t know Andy Rooney.

      • Can you please stop using the driver’s license example. You can’t have it professionally done and you can’t have anyone but yourself in it because it’s against the law.

    • I like this comment, but I got no thumbs to like it.

      I like the post. Not agreeing with everything, but I like it. I hear you, Jamey. However, there are times that I personally don’t want to show my face. I’m not really photogenic.

  11. Oh thank God it’s not just me who gets pissy when I see people on Facebook who have their significant other in their profile! It annoys me so bad! I click on the link to read whatever update and then I see the picture and I’m like forget what their new status update is, I’m too distracted by this picture. Maybe I’m just territorial of my stuff, but even when I had boyfriends in the past I NEVER made a picture with the 2 of us my main profile image. That’s MY Facebook page, not his, not shared. Shared just sounds weird, you share living space,expenses, not Facebook accounts. Sounds like the dumbest thing ever. I think I blogged about this, it might even be one of the first pet peeves I posted. Gets me worked up just reading it on here, bottom line, there is a crop tool on almost any photo editing software, even Paint which I believe comes on all computers. Take 2 dang seconds and get rid of them. Be your own person.
    I’m sure all of this had been said in the 33 comments before mine, but ugh the 2 people in a photo for one account just makes me so GRRR!

  12. First off this is coming from someone who hates facebook, but I have been trying to use it a bit more to see if it actually sucks less than I think. I don’t mind the multi-person profile picture. I think that most one person photos look really posed, as if the subject made sure about 1000 photos were taken and then chose the best one. If there are multiple people in the picture you know that they would not put of with one jackass trying to make it perfect. I have had the same profile picture since the inception, and if it was just me in there it would be a lame picture, but since I have company it is actually awesome.

    • Gabby, I have nothing to say except that when you say “since the inception,” I really hope you’re talking about the time a team of very well-dressed conmen infiltrated your dreams and planted an idea that you should make the epic mistake of including multiple people in your Facebook profile photo. That is my hope.

  13. I haven’t read everyone’s reply yet, so I may be repeating. Apologies.

    Bob HATES couple profile pictures on facebook. (Hopefully he’s not on, so I won’t go into that) He hates that couples will get married or whatever and just lose their individuality completely. That’s what he feels the picture symbolizes. The loss of Self.

    THAT SAID, his profile picture is of him and Bill Murray. And, humorously, my mom was showing her friends the other day what he looks like, so she pulled up his fb page and said, “There he is with his dad.”
    Haha. I WISH! think how loaded he would be and how immersed in FT production work. God, he could do whatever he wanted if Bill Murray were actually his dad.

    Anyway, my poor mom was ridiculed for the rest of the night. hehe

  14. i totally agree! My ex-bf’s girlfriend’s profile pic is ALWAYS the 2 of them, and she changes the pic every time they travel, Thing is they always have the same pose. I mean I shouldn’t look at it either, as it hurts me, but I also think, is it really necessary to have a ‘couple’s pic’ all the time..lame..


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