Make Your Identity… Just Not on My Facebook Wall

I write this post today with the hope that it will reach a lot of you youngsters – people not that much younger than me (or perhaps just a bit older) who are just graduating college and trying to establish themselves and create and identity. That’s a difficult and ambiguous thing to address. As a young professional in the modern age, you’ve likely been indoctrinated by narcissism and the idea that to be successful means that you have to create and online or public identity. The following mediums are all commonly used, and I’m going to write a little bit about each one and hopefully help inform your decisions.

1) Facebook Fan Pages
This is a common one for artists, actors, writers, and aspiring/current public figures alike. Facebook has done something interesting with it’s “fan page” feature. When Facebook started (some of you may not even remember) you “liked” things like Blink 182, fried eggs, and Wuthering Heights. These likes were used to catalog you and figure out if you had similar interests with others in your network. Today, fan pages have been given autonomy, and anyone who decides they represent an organization can assume the identity of these pages and post things on their behalf.
The thing about this is that having a fan page kind of assumes that you’re something people have already been searching for – an entity that people recognize and say, “Oh, wonder if they’re on Facebook. I’d like people to know that I like them!” Creating a Facebook Fan Page for yourself is only going to serve to annoy your online friends and give off an air of arrogance. If I’m already friends with you on Facebook, then write me a message or post on your wall to advertise your upcoming gallery show or open mic. I don’t need my timeline to show a post you put on your personal page, followed by an identical post on your “fan page.” Until you are super, super famous and people are trying to find you online, a Facebook Fan Page isn’t going to help you get noticed more unless people are already searching for you. And it will alienate the people who already wanted to be your friend in real life. Get it?

2) Blogs
Blogs are great, and worth reading if you have time. Many people try to make a blog because they think they’d like to be a writer. Freeze. This is a thought that is romantic and enters everyone’s mind. Being a writer, hmm? That offers a lot of flexibility and the respect of intellectual peers, no? Blogs can be great, but they can also just be spaces where people likely won’t ever read what you write. Don’t create a blog with the assumption that it’ll make you web-famous overnight. Many of my blogger friends who have popular blogs have been working at it for years and built up their reputations. There’s also something to be said about finding out if you really have something to say at that time. Making a blog with definitely put you to the test and at least help you learn about yourself. Don’t have as much to say as you initially thought? That’s okay. Explore your world. Find other passions and don’t sit in front of your computer. Inspiration will hit you later.

3) Vlogs/YouTube Channels
The first of these is a “video blog,” which is stupid to make unless you have a pretty exciting life. If you’re generally sitting at home and not doing a whole lot, don’t bother people by sharing links of you sitting in front of your laptop and talking about nothing (though Jenna Marbles has certainly proved an exception – but comedy is different, and harder to do). Make a vlog if you’re a traveler, or if you’re reporting on the progress of an ongoing project you’re passionate about. Similarly, YouTube channels may exist if you’re trying to produce content to become popular. A YouTube channel can help show the world your talents or that you enjoy wasting time – either way, you’ll be steps ahead in helping form an identity.

All in all, I’m well aware of the fact that at a young age, we all ascribe to a wide variety of things we don’t actually need or follow through with, kind of like a twelve year old kid with a closet full of the hockey equipment, guitar lesson books, and computer parts of tried and forgotten hobbies. Try things. Give them a shot. But be aware that there are a lot of ways to find out what makes you unique and marketable. Don’t be a social media sheep!