Happy 2010 to all! I have been thinking about what, if any, changes I want to make to this blog during the new year. Should I change my profile picture and/or the blog design? Abandon the black-and-white-only photo posting policy? Should I “come out” as myself here on the blog? I don’t feel any huge need to change my picture. I kind of like the garden of Eden look of that black stone statue amongst the tropical foliage that I now use. I also like the blog design, though I do need to update my blogroll. I may or may not start posting color photographs. Mainly I need to get back into taking photographs, period.
As for “outing” myself, most regular commenters already know me from other environments, whether “real” life, the old blog, or other on-line forums. So I don’t feel a real need to blog here under my real name. At least not at this point.
But this last issue has been on my mind lately. As much as I resisted it, I have begun to Twitter. So far, the experience is still new to me. And still a little odd. I am continually shocked about what, on Twitter, people will reveal about themselves. I have heard of families airing all their dirty laundry via Tweets for each other and all the Twitterverse to see. Some people I follow have begun using a program where they will entertain the most intimate questions about themselves, promising to answer any and all queries honestly.
All of this, I do not quite get, nor do I expect (with my personality) I ever will. This has made me think of the following post from my old blog. “Egocasting” has gone warp speed since I wrote these words. There are now so many potential on-line selves to coordinate, so many potential worlds and audiences to collide. I think Twitter might be the end of the technological personalization line for me. If folks want to know anything more than what I already share they’ll just have to get to know me face to face.
(Also related: this BlogHer post from Nordette Adams.)
I have been rather busy lately…a little friend called a dissertation. But I also enjoy keeping this blog. As I have said before, this is an extension of the journaling—personal and academic—that I have always done. My compromise has been to largely post brief entries of things I have read elsewhere, with perhaps a little commentary from me. Lists also seem to be a quick, enjoyable way to keep a blog going—and, a main initial feature of [this blog] was my making lists of things that I seemed to not be able to get to.
In this vein, a while back I thought I might post a list of the summer reading I wanted to do. But while I was compiling in my head what I would post here to the blog, I found myself excising a few of books from the list.
What was that about?
Well, these books were “light reading”—what some would even call “trash.” As this blog is, in large part, about my PhD journey, posting such non-intellectual fare would have been like admitting to the world that I planned to spend the summer on the couch watching “Three’s Company” re-runs on one of the nostalgia TV channels.
Blogger as Product
“I am so hip even my errors are correct.”
~Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping”*
My being loathe to make such an admission was the first I had realized that I was intentionally and strategically using this forum as a way to reveal some things about myself—and, more interesting—to cloak others.
I have heard this kind of on-line self-presentation called egocasting. And it appears that blogging could be part of the realm of technologies of personalization. Just as I can use my iPod to listen to my own personalized 24-hour radio station full of only those songs I like, just as I can use my television and remote and DVR to view only those programs I like, I can use my blog to “broadcast” only those aspects of my graduate school experience that I like.
Even if I reveal my frustrations and errors, I can wait to craft a post until I have successfully overcome and corrected them. Even if I reveal my shortcomings, I can spin them in such a way that procrastination appears to be reflection, lack of divergent thinking becomes focus, pathological perseveration becomes dedication.
I can be a product of my own production.
Same Broadcast, Different Station
You ain’t ridin/
You ain’t bumpin like I’m bumpin/
You ain’t sayin nuthin homie/
You ain’t fresh az I’m iz…
~Bow Wow, “Fresh Azimiz”
It just so happens that while I was having this summer reading/egocasting epiphany, I was also updating my CV (or, resume, for you non-academics). In a stroke of convergent thinking (or, in a sure sign of being mired in a mental rut) it occurred to me that a CV is a much older and much more widespread type of “egocasting.” In my CV I broadcast the professional self that I hope will be pleasing to my “audience”—prospective employers. I do not (purposefully) reveal my negative qualities, perhaps hoping to give the impression that I am in possession of none.
Not only do I try hard to broadcast myself in the best possible light (evident, for example, by spending inordinate amounts of time deciding between “developed” and “designed”) but I implicitly try to convey that I am better—muchmuchmuch better—than any other egocast my audience may be tuning into on their prospective employee dial.
Again, I am a product. Plus I am a better/fresher/tastier/faster product than the others.
“Become the Boast…”
Well, anyone who has ever sent themselves off to faceless others in the form of a multi-page listing of awards, accomplishments, and action words knows that such an endeavor can be pretty rough on the ego. You’re supposed to be confidently tooting your own horn, but just as often you feel as if you may be sounding discordant notes. The act of egocasting via plain old CV-writing can be undermining to one’s ego.
In true spin-making form, though, I have decided to look upon both my blog writing and my more formal professional presentations of myself not as occasions for doubt and worry, but as opportunities for goal attainment. My CV is a catalog of my proudest moments for others; But for me it can be a “how-to” manual for even more proud moments to come.
And no, I can no longer claim that this blog is “just an on-line journal”—It is also a digital representation of a (somewhat/some times) carefully crafted on-line self. But it does not have to turn into a forum for private self-guessing and self-authentication—It, like my CV, can be part of the road map to my personal mission.
In that spirit, I just may post that summer reading list. And think what you may if it is not packed with great classics or deep literary prize winners. I will likely list a few of those in the hopes that my seeing those titles here will serve as motivation to actually read (not just purchase) them. I like to think of it as having a healthy balance between work and play, seriousness and fun. (Though I could also think of it as my being shallow and frivolous.)
Whichever way you slice it: Both my CV and my blog are me—or at least a part of me that I decide is ready for public consumption. Whatever perfection contained herein is true even when it doesn’t tell the complete story. And of course, any lack of perfection is part of the story, too. But at least a part of the rest of the story is my intention to reach higher…
I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal.
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission.
I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…
~Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping”*
*(Recorded spoken word available on iTunes and here on Amazon)