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Beyond the Lotus: Breaking Free from WeChat Avatar Expectations

Everyone is a connoisseur of avatars, and altering a WeChat avatar is not a casual endeavor. In the course of life, guardians lavish as much scrutiny upon their offspring’s WeChat avatars as they once did upon our scholastic undertakings. In the realm of employment, should we adopt avatars tinged with levity, our superiors or clientele may deem us as capricious.

The pivotal communication ensued at the stroke of seven on a Saturday morn. As I lethargically cast my gaze upon the caller identification displayed upon the screen, a premonition whispered that this call pertained to the WeChat avatar I had recently revised. True to intuition, upon depressing the answer button, maternal admonishments reverberated from the receiver: “Refrain from capriciously altering your avatar; I scarcely recognize you! The youth are incessantly enamored with somber avatars. How inauspicious!”

Feebly, I queried, “Shall I switch to a feline portrayal?” Alas, even the depiction of a feline enkindled maternal ire: “It is inauspicious for a feline to grace a profile picture! Did you not peruse the treatise on ‘taboos surrounding profile depictions’ that I shared yesterday? Observe?” It seemed peculiar to my eyes! Nonetheless, to evade incurring another reproach for “neglecting to peruse maternal communiqués,” I hastened to explicate, “I indeed perused it, hence my jest, promptly rectified.”

Resigned to capitulation, I acquiesced, replacing it with the favored avatar of my seniors—a lotus blossom. Upon unveiling the novel depiction, my progenitors conveyed contented countenances, whilst contemporaries of akin vintage teased me for the ensuing week, jesting that I had precipitated into retirement prematurely.

Men who are wedded, with progeny, and have surpassed a decade in years cannot elude the scrutiny of parental avatars. My comrade Xiao Sunxin altered his gaming avatar to portray “a man prostrated, grasping a long blade, poised for subsequent combat,” eliciting parental disapproval. Perplexed, can even this genre of inspirational avatar garner parental disdain? Xiao Sunxin was disheartened: “You are excessively idealistic! In parental perception, a man must comport himself with rectitude, thus what merit lies in prostration? Beneath a man’s knees lies wealth!” Alas, it appears his progenitors’ rationale is irrefutable? Henceforth, Xiao Sunxin, too, assumed the Buddhist landscape avatar, alongside me.

What impedes our emancipation in the realm of avatars is not solely parental apprehension but also the “implicit norms of the profession”—avatars have seemingly become intertwined with professionalism. Financiers uniformly adopt avatars portraying business attire with folded arms; salespersons exhibit resolute gazes as their cornerstone, with suits and ties as de rigueur. Consolidated, these avatars verge on being ludic. Whenever I chance upon a WeChat contact adorned with such avatars, evaluating their professional acumen proves arduous, albeit their occupation can be surmised to some extent.

My cousin Dalong, an IT sales professional with an ardor for fitness, elected to flaunt his upper-body musculature as his WeChat avatar to evince his fitness achievements. Instead of acclaim, familial circles unleashed vehement censure: “How unseemly! Impropriety!” Regrettably, Cousin Dalong relented, replacing his avatar with that of a winsome bunny. Now, parental satisfaction was achieved, yet he was sternly reprimanded by his employer: “This hardly bespeaks of IT sales! It may unduly project an unprofessional image upon clientele!” Subsequently, a slew of avatars were dispatched to my cousin for emulation.

A towering figure was rendered impotent by a diminutive avatar, prompting my cousin’s contemplation. Following meticulous deliberation, he decisively established a separate WeChat account, thereby attaining avatar liberty. Presently, his primary account perpetually displays a uniform business avatar, emblematic of IT sales professionalism, while his secondary account brims with vivacious avatars, eagerly swapped every three days.

Observing my cousin’s daily revelry, I couldn’t refrain from querying, “Do you not find it burdensome to toggle between two accounts?” Whereupon, my cousin triumphantly declared, “For the liberty of avatars!” In that moment, his stature in my esteem burgeoned immeasurably.

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