April 27, 2019

(a day during which I stare at my navel, drink tea, and type)

“Here’s a powerful way to signal that you’re a deep, knowledgeable person”
OMG – the headline. (No, I didn’t click over).
Because it is all about the signaling… that leads to the sales.


I studied writing at universities for many years and I never dreamed that I was doing so for the opportunity to provide “content” for advertising frameworks in an attention economy.


With all respect to McLuhan, the medium isn’t the message. The medium is the economy, and the message is irrelevant.


I am no economist or sociologist, but I am convinced that the current imperative of entrepreneur work is a confidence game – a con job. If I were lucky/attractive/savvy, I could have successfully piggybacked my own product in the greater framework. I tried very hard to make *myself* a product. And yes, I have utterly failed at this, and not without trying to “make it”.


I am not an influencer. I am not charismatic. I suck at networking.


I have a very hard time getting my head around the idea that is okay to begin selling … something… before there is anything to sell. It takes “fake it until you make it” to a whole new level.


I am not okay with looking to create social contacts for the purpose of gaining money or influence. At least not now, now that I have stopped and looked at it from this perspective.


Lately, I have been part of the yoga community on Instagram, where there are different challenges that are sponsored by companies selling varies things like yoga pants or ethically-sourced mats. All very nice, but I had to look up the word sponsor. I still haven’t figured out how that word is relevant. It’s not like anyone gets a t-shirt for playing along. Although the sponsor will give you a discount if you buy one from them. Aren’t the participants actually sponsoring the advertisers?

There are also people sending me private messages to tell me how they can help me increase my followers. Which is odd, since I am not selling anything on that account. I guess popularity is its own reward. And it has a price tag. But if I can increase my popularity, then I can trade that and become an influencer. It’s such a fancy name for salesman, isn’t it?

I have been thinking about the old television program Star Search. There was a category for Spokes-Model, and I remember having that secret fantasy* that most girls have: to be discovered as a model, paid for just brushing your hair and showing up, knowing people valued your presence because you prettied-up the place. I keep asking myself lately – well into midlife – if I have actually ever given up that fantasy?


(*Dear actual models, should any of you read this: don’t get offended, I said this is the fantasy of being a spokes-model.)


I wish I could teach logically fallacies in my classroom. To remind everyone that appeal to authority is one of them. But that would really screw up the economy now, wouldn’t it?


Our social networks have been hijacked by the economic system. And are redefining what it is to be social. Just as Facebook is warping the meaning of the word “friend” in a way that distorts our relationships in “the real world”, as they say.


I “unfriended” my younger brother on Facebook years ago. Basically because I never have wanted to hang out with him and his friends in a basement while they drank beer and shared jokes that I don’t find funny… or discuss politics I disagree with. I still love him. I even respect him.


Facebook does not/must not define my relationships in the real world.
All this talk about creativity – no as an experience/expression of being human, but as a means to make money, get attention – makes me sad.


I admit, maybe I am critical because I am failing at it all? Who knows.


But the view from down here is okay if I look straight ahead:


I have the luxury of the safety network of an old-fashioned job. I can pay my bills and live comfortably (if I can get off the Hedonic treadmill). My situation is becoming increasingly rare, and we have been brainwashed to believe that it is undesirable – definitively not sexy.


We believe for some reason that being an employee doesn’t come with enough “freedom”, or that being an entrepreneur leaves people somehow free from having to take other people’s sh*t.


My “day job” (as I have recently stopped calling it) is teaching teenagers who – understandably – believe that they would be failures if they wound up having a job like mine: Entrepreneurial development is a mantra in the school system here (so much for our signaling of democratic socialism).


But I am discovering that I can use my free time to actually disconnect from the time-is-money 24/7 network, and remember what writing was to me before all this noise. What reading was to me. What painting, bookbinding, ceramics, dancing, yoga were to me — all these things I did not need to signal to the world and find a way to monetize it to justify/signal my existence as a “deep and knowledgeable” person.


I am a teacher. And how many times have I caught myself designing an entrepreneurial project that would allow me to … continue to teach, but with a fancier title? And a sh*tload of uncertainties and risk.


I am a writer.


But I am done trying to sell that identity to anyone, or contemplating twisting my life around to it written on my tax returns.


At least for today.


It is so easy to get sucked back in.

Oh, the irony of people “liking” this post before they have had time to read it.

P.S. I did follow the link from the headline on Big Think on Facebook – and sat through a video advertisement to get to the form that I would fill out to subscribe for access to the article wherein the economist would give me the info I was looking for.

So. There’s that.

Posted in: Journal, Poetry

1 thought on “April 27, 2019 Leave a comment

  1. Haha…I know that irks me too–(the irony)….As soon as a post goes up with some key word in it, the algorithm-bots go to work.

    Real people, now…that’s different. Ah, the need for balance!


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