When I was a child, I used to watch cartoons, like most kids do. One of my favourites was the Flintstones. In the words of its creators, they were “the average stone age family”. My family was what could be considered an average family at the time. The family in the Flintstones consisted of: the father, Fred Flintstone; Wilma, the stay at home Mom; their daughter Pebbles; and their pet dinosaur Dino. The series revolved around the adventures and antics of the Flintstones and their good friends and neighbours, the Rubbles. In many ways, it was its times equivalent of the Simpsons or Family Guy.

As I got older, I started to watch other, live action shows. When I went away to university, I rediscovered the Flintstones. At lunchtime in the residence building where I lived, they were one of the programs that was watched, by consensus. As I rediscovered them, I discovered that in addition to the superficial layer that I had enjoyed as a child, there were at least two other layers of meaning. These layers of meaning and complexity (child, adult and big picture) are reflective of life today, and certainly how I see life.

What is the point of the above story? Simply this, to set the context for answering some questions that I get about my choice of avatar. Why don’t I use my picture? What does my avatar have to do with who I am? The answers are all interconnected.

As I discussed in my first blog post on The Promise of Social Media, I believe that social media has the potential to help move humankind past at least some of its oldest prejudices. However, at least for the next generation or two, those of us alive have been raised in an environment where prejudice was a reality. Many of us have fought to not listen to and pass on those prejudices to the next generations. But while they still exist, getting to know the inner person before the outer person, is one of the best way to fight those prejudices, whether in ourselves or others. After all, how can you be prejudiced against someone that you already like and respect. In the end, what relevance does age, gender, race, nationality, tribe, hair colour or lack thereof, or any other thing potentially visible on the surface have to do with who I or you truly are at the core. For that reason I choose to use an avatar that at least in some way represents who I am inside.

So who was Dino the Dinosaur? He was the equivalent of a big friendly puppy that we might have as a family pet in real life. He was loyal to his extended family and protective of them. No matter how old he was, he was always young at heart. You rarely saw him show any emotion except love, unless his extended family was threatened somehow. This is who I aspire to be. Who do you aspire to be?

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