Personal Brands Aren’t Personal: Thoughts about Blogging

With the release of Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, I find myself nostalgic for old blogs.

The Internet is full of blogs now. Not personal weblogs, though. It’s ad copy focus on industries and businesses rather than the lives of people. Well, except for recipe blogs. But even then there are more people jumping straight to the shortbread ingredients. People you would find writing blogs once upon a time are now on YouTube. And even that is beginning to change. More and more businesses are sharing their expertise and selling products in scripted format. Of course, their advertisements are now separated by paid advertisements on their videos. It’s very much a snake eating its tail kind of thing.

I know what’s happening: people are becoming businesses.

A chunk of this comes down to privacy. Sam Seaborn called it on The West Wing. There are personal stories I’d love to share here. At the same time, I also want to talk about writing and pop culture. Everything is a brand. It has to be in order to be an expert of the field, to look like professional. If I included members of my family and friend group into that brand, the messaging becomes muddied.

On top of that, failings are now more public than ever. Cancel culture is a double-edged sword that can protect and hurt. Good has come from it–the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have shown a light on the abuses of our system. That said, a tweet from twelve years ago can come back to haunt you. You may be a different person than you were twelve years ago, but if there’s something in your internet history, someone will find it.

My friends have been recommending the book Digital Minimalism, and I find myself tempted to forgo social media. I can just write on this blog, and people will find me and comment like in the Good Ol’ Days of the Web. Blogs used to be how writers got jobs and book deals. But will it ever be anything like the days of WilWheaton.net or the Bloggess? Where being human and muddied is worth reading about? Where I’m more than just what I’m trying to sell? I don’t know.

I mean, personally I’d love to be Allie Brosh. Then again, she disappeared from the Internet and there are Reddit threads about it. I don’t know if I want to become an X-File. A writer for The X-Files, yes.