Social scientists and media theorists speak in accord on point: What you post to blogs and social networks reflects a specific version of yourself that you project outward to the rest of the digital world. By tweeting about our cats and liking musicians on Facebook, we’re really just crafting our identity—at least, what we want other people to think is our identity. Sometimes the two don’t necessarily see eye to eye.
A new infographic generator called Twitterize Yourself adds an additional layer of unreality on top of our already fluid, artificial personalities. The way it works is by a bit of reverse engineering: Feed your Twitter account name into the software and the website spits out a version of you based on its analysis of your previous tweets. It will try to guess your fashion, interests, and even your prevailing mood. What’s more, you can also go head-to-head with another person to see how you match up. The picture above juxtaposes Utne Reader editor-in-chief David Schimke (@dmschimke) versus the official Utne Reader Twitter account (@utnereader). Nice sandals, boss.
Of the friends and co-workers accounts I’ve tried Twitterize Yourself on, there are typically two outcomes. Either the website will reproduce a perfect semblance of the person, meaning that person’s tweets accurately reflect their interests and personality; or the Twitterize Yourself avatar is surprisingly different from the person’s personality, which should make one wonder what they’re actually telling the world with their 140-character missives. For example, our editor doesn’t smoke (or wear dandy vests around the office).
At the very least, Twitterize Yourself is a lunch break distraction, and at best it should give us pause when managing our digital identities. For the sake of transparency, I’ve included my meta-Twitter version of myself (@willwlizlo) below. It’s less than flattering.