Being Online

Adam Driver from Marriage Story seeing Being Alive, but with the words changed to Being Online
I used this joke for a newsletter, but decided it could use a fresh coat of meme paint.

There are situations where you want to spend time fine-tuning your writing, choosing the perfect word, and rewriting the same sentence until it’s perfect. I’d argue that a personal blog is not the place for that. Not because it’s not worth it but because it’s not really necessary. Personal blogs to me are more like conversations. When you talk to someone you don’t say the same thing four different times until you find the perfect phrase. You just talk, you communicate and if something is not clear you clarify it.

-Manuel Moreale, “Good enough”

Humans, on the other hand, are complicated and messy and inconsistent. We are remarkably imaginative. Sometimes we are generous, sometimes we are kind, sometimes we lie and cheat. No matter who we are, we have autonomy, and (if we are lucky) are free to decide to do whatever we want for whatever reason we want. Then, we can change our minds and decide to do something altogether different. Or not.

When a person aspires to be a brand, they forfeit everything that is truly glorious about being human. Building any brand requires consensus. When we position ourselves as a brand, we are forced to project an image of what we believe most people will approve of and admire and buy into. The moment we cater our creativity to popular opinion is the precise moment we lose our freedom and autonomy.

-Debbie Millman, “The Personal Brand Paradox”

It’s already happened in fits and starts, but this isn’t the blog I started.

Sure there’s plenty of writing on here about writing, but there’s also stories about depression, parenting, religion, and loss.

I started this blog as a newly minted MFA, thinking I had enough training and experience to sound authoritative. I wanted to create a space online that projected that confidence and intellect. I wanted to hide the messy parts I’d shared when I was younger on LiveJournal and Geocities.

I lectured instead of spoke.

Gradually that tone shifted, and topics have expanded as my experience expanded.

But now I’m 40, and supposedly that means something on its own. I know, I know: It’s not the years, it’s the mileage… but I’m going somewhere here…

I’m also finding a lot of things to take stock of and make decisions about. I’m wondering about how I’m supposed to define myself now.

How am I supposed to define myself for everyone else?

What if I don’t feel like doing that work right now?

What if I don’t feel like a concrete person who talks about one thing well?

What if I feel like a mess? And what if that’s okay? What if being messy and okay is worth putting out there?

Maybe it’s worth figuring out, and maybe putting it into words is the way to do that. We’ll see.