Once upon a time I was a zero. Just a faceless office drone making fresh pots of coffee, typing out minutes of meetings and filling staplers with little pieces of metal.
Then bout’ three years ago I came up with this unbeatable idea: BE A STAR ON THE INTERNET! Okay, let me reverse that a bit. I actually decided to sell everything I owned to travel this wild, quirky, unexplainable world.
My cherry red couch became a cherry red backpack, then I finally chose to become an Internet force. This blog was birthed to share my honest thoughts on being a mature woman who travels a lot and alone.
As I began to navigate this crazy Internet existence it became clear to me that I had to adopt some kind of brand.
Be something. I looked around at this idea of image and soon enough, I found myself making connections. My image was making friends with other images. People I may never meet in person, but when I do there’s always a tangle of nerves in my stomach.
Will they be the same in person as they are online? Will I be? Did they post a photo of themselves from the neck up for a reason?
A few interesting reactions I receive have to do with my height.
“I thought you’d be taller.” Dripping with surprise, a hint of disappointment. Freaking sorry to not be a WNBA sized woman.
Or my nervous tension will interrupt someone as they’re talking, “Tell me, it’s true, isn’t it? I’m wayyy more funny in person than on my blog. Right? Right?” Once they say ‘yes’, I’m satisfied, but devastated that my blog is right up there with funeral marches. Goth poetry. That movie The Crow.
After these encounters, I always ponder investment. How much do I invest in my Internet ‘face’ over how often I step away from the computer to round out my life?
Is the blog me or am I the blog?
Marketing experts will often emphasize image building. Crafting a certain set of precepts to ensnare readers, but to also keep them.
Remember Gay Girl in Damascus? It was a transfixing blog by a 35 year old Syrian-American lesbian living in Syria during the political uprising of 2011. A litter of reasons existed to love this blog. It was written by a woman, a voice not often heard from in that part of the globe. Her openness about her sexuality in a conservative culture won her numerous fans and her participation in the revolution brought more admiration.
Amina Abdallah Arraf al Omar was her name and at the zenith of her fame, she disappeared on June 6, 2011, allegedly nabbed by security forces. The netsphere ramped up, pleading for her to be safely returned.
Then it all fell apart. Amina was really Tom McMaster, a 40 year old white guy living in Scotland. A bloody heterosexual. Calling himself a Middle East activist, he claimed that creating an Arab woman gave him freedom to discuss political issues on the region without that stigma of Americanism.
I can’t help thinking of the author — Tom. Would he carry around her words in his head, speak like her sometimes, adopt her gait? Get so caught up in what she gave him to quit? She gave him media interviews, numerous accolades, a lesbian lover from Canada, an entirely separate world from his own.
Amina was an intriguing personality to live in. A homerun.
I’ve been following Erika Napoletano, also known as Redhead Writing. She spins herself as a no nonsense branding coach. Author, Speaker, Motivator. With nearly 10,000 Facebook fans trawling her page, I’d say that’s a successful haul. The woman is hilarious, no doubt, with a likeable personality. She’s been featured by Forbes, among other publications. Her crowning touch is simple — the F-bomb.
She uses it to great affect on her fan page, all over the place really. For example, “Fuck Yeah” Friday has been a popular campaign. There’s something charming about a stunning redheaded woman hurling out vocabulary used by sailors.
I can see her now. F-bombing the clerk at her grocery store, throwing F-bombs at her two dogs, telling her mom F-this and F-that. I really wish she was my F-ing best friend.
Come now, let’s not be naive. She can’t really be like that on a daily basis? I’ll pause now to shrug, because she could be. But something tells me, no. Certainly not every minute, or in every conversation she has. Even she would say herself, it’s a smart branding device to get noticed and stay noticed.
My meandering point is the notion of duality. There have been times I’m depressed, feeling very unmotivated to share those true feelings. Or periods of intense happiness and I’m sometimes willing to hit ‘publish’.
The duality I’m talking about is the division between persona and presence. I never want to be that person who sells you false advertising. Who portrays a radically adventurous life when in reality I’m an adult woman living in my parents dank basement, working a dead end job, spending my nights with Doritos and Oreos while watching the NatGeo channel to get ideas for this blog that you read so religiously.
I’d write this damn thing if nobody read it. Maybe that means this blog is serious at times. Or aggravatingly boring.
Persona only takes you so far. It’s presence, committing to living with consciousness, doing things that make you smile — inside and out. What you read is still my essence, even if I’m bragging about that tubular skydive in Prague, and don’t you want to be me and have my life?
That’s the game I try to bring. Oh, and the occasional F-bomb. Gotta get those Google hits.