Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Social Media Profiles as Avatars

Definition of SIMULACRUM
1: image, representation
2: an insubstantial form or semblance of something

(from Merriam-Webster)

When E brought this word to my attention, he explained it as: "a copy for which there is no original." 


“She does not know herself, but who does? Don’t we all go through life in the same ignorance of who we are, ready to rush at any description of ourselves that would give us the illusion of having a simple identity that can be summed up in a few words?”
Jacqueline Harpman, Orlanda (translated from the French)

Harpman could've been talking about Twitter. 


I've been thinking a lot about privacy lately, and about image management. I feel very split on the subject between my work as a mental health professional and my growing number of freelance projects. The former demands a certain degree of privacy and/or professionalism and discretion related to my Internet profiles. My latter work would arguably benefit from transparency and link-ability across Internet profiles. In an attempt to balance the two, I've made some changes to certain privacy settings recently, and have really begun to think about the purpose of each online profile I maintain. 

Like it or not, online profiles like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, blogs and whatever others I'm not aware of because of my age and interests, have become so important to our culture. These profiles generate sales, they generate awareness around news and causes, and they allow us to "connect" with people we cannot or do not see or speak with on a regular basis. The degree and reality of the connection is, in my mind, arguable. Nevertheless, to suggest that these social platforms aren't relevant or important is to miss the point. 

I was never a gamer, but it makes sense to me to connect Internet profiles with avatars. We choose a profile picture that represents (in some way) the things we like about ourselves, whether it shows us looking our best (for example, made up for an event), with people we love, or doing an activity we feel represents what we're about (or even an activity that we would like to represent us). We create and share content that presents us as we see ourselves or as we'd like to be seen. Our social media avatars even act for us; we make public endorsements and we say things online that we might never say in person. 

So, when does cultivating your image detract from cultivating your substance? Is authenticity authentic if it's very carefully recreated and represented online for others to see? 

I don't know the answer to that. 

What I do know is this: I never want my actual person (as in, conversation with me over coffee) to not live up to my Internet profile. I always want to exceed the expectations created by my Internet persona in the flesh. In a world where everything is sharable and absolutely nothing is private, I don't want to fully replicate the experience of being with me on the Internet. I know how hard it is to be present in the here and now, but perhaps a series of "disconnected" moments is the stuff that makes a real life.

So, what are your thoughts? Feelings? Dreams?


Okay, this has been a nice break. I must now return to my analysis of psychoanalytic theory in Harpman's Orlanda (which I highly recommend; it's incredibly strange and even wiser). I must submit this final final paper tonight, and then I'll be free of schoolwork for a few weeks. 

What a lovely thought. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

ICYMI: recent freelance work

Before I get started...Mom and Dad: ICYMI stands for In Case You Missed It.


I know, I know. I've already failed my own Novemblog challenge. For good reason, though. I spent a lot of last weekend interviewing interesting people and writing stories. Specifically, I sat down with two different couples and talked with them about their love and resulting nuptial parties. It was really, really fun.

I post a lot of my work for Cincinnati Magazine on various social media platforms, and I'm sure many of you follow me in/on those places (?), but I thought I'd post a few links to some recent work on the blog as well. A lot of my freelance work feels like indirectly blogging about my life and getting paid for it. It's a really lucky situation, and I'm incredibly thankful.

For example, I try to promote my neighborhood whenever I can.
  1. For E's mom's birthday in September, we took her on the Northside House Tour which is a super unique biennial event that's sure to thrill design lovers and straight-up busybodies like myself.
  2. My neighbors are in the midst of a really important campaign to bring a grocery store, Apple Street Market, to our 'hood which is currently a "food desert"-- an area where healthy food is hard to obtain, especially for those without transportation options.
  3. I interviewed Helen Smith of Helltown Workshop (based in Northside) about her upholstery work on Miles Ahead (the Miles Davis biopic filmed in Cincinnati over the summer). 
I like to think that writing about the neat things happening in Northside could help change someone's negative perspective of our corner of the city, or encourage them to donate to an important cause or attend a rad event. I don't know if any of that's true, but I've got to try, right?

Other fun things:
  1. I wrote a short blurb about Abigail Street (a restaurant in Over the Rhine) based on a lovely experience E and I had several weeks ago. We saw The Great Gatsby at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and then ducked in to escape the rain and enjoy some delicious Pinot noir and mussels.
  2. I previewed The Apache Relay's show at 20th Century Theatre on November 9.
  3. I got to share WALK THE MOON's fan video with you. I still smile all the way through it.
So, that's some of what I've been up to. It occurred to me during a text conversation today (I know...) that I should be more impressed with myself than I typically am (at least regarding time management and completed work). I do a lot of different things every day and major fails are (mercifully) pretty rare. Knock on wood if you're still reading. 

It feels conceited to say that about myself, but: 1. why?; 2. I think it's true (I hope it's true, anyway); and 3. I needed that realization this morning because I woke up feeling under the weather with much to do including unanticipated projects like cleaning up SEVERAL creatively-placed piles of cat barf. (He'll be okay, you guys-- he's old.)

Anyway, I hope you are impressed with yourself today too. 

You are all very impressive to me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

[Frankenstein]: that's a wrap! (Again.)

Sorry for the radio silence, blog friends. I’ve been busy schooling and writing and rehearsing. In the blink of an eye, the encore run of [Frankenstein] was here. In another blink, it was gone. 

My experience of these two performances (Monday, October 27 & Tuesday, October 28) was unique in that I was the only member of our cast and crew who got to sit down and watch the thing without a job to do. The few times I was able to stop myself from willing our tech cues to function properly and on time and actually consider what was in front of me, I smiled and enjoyed the realization of all our hard work. We received a lot of kind feedback about the changes we made to the show since our first run at Fringe, and our final performance last night was my favorite of them all. I am proud of what we did, and it was really nice to end on a high note with celebratory tacos. 

So, what’s next? 

Well, there’s no play in the works, but I am working on some freelance writing that will keep me pretty busy in the coming weeks, and I’m super excited about the art parties Harper and I are planning. We want to get together, hopefully weekly, and block a few hours of time exclusively for our individual creative projects. Once upon a time, I made all different kinds of 2D visual art, and I’d like to get back into that. I have a stack of inspiration images, the holidays are nearly upon us and, lucky for you all, I’ve once again decided to try to make or repurpose your gifts. It’s so easy to put off creative projects because there are so many things competing for my time. My hope is that being accountable to Harper about my art goals will help my progress and, in a lot of ways, she is the best cheerleader I’ve ever known. 

More good news: I’m ready to recommit to you. I’m thinking of another Novemblog challenge in which I force myself to write one entry per day. What do you think? Would you read them? 

I hope you all are doing well. Thanks especially to all of you who came to see [Frankenstein] or sent along kind words. I felt really supported, and I know that I am lucky. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Short encore run of our 2014 Fringe Festival show, [Frankenstein], at the Know Theatre!

Harper and I are incredibly proud and happy to announce that the Know Theatre is remounting our 2014 Cincinnati Fringe Festival show, [Frankenstein], as part of its regular season. You can catch encore performances of #franktheplay on Monday, October 27, and Tuesday, October 28, just in time for Halloween. Both shows start at 8pm on the main stage at the Know Theatre (1120 Jackson Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202)

We're really exicted about this opportunity to get (most of) the gang back together and do this thing on a REAL stage with REAL blackouts and a REAL projection screen. This remount has given us a chance to consider the feedback we got after our first run; we've been reworking a few key scenes, developing even more soundscapes with Eli, and listening to a ton of Dylan's jokes along the way. If you saw us at Fringe (thank you!!), please consider coming back because this product will absolutely be different. We can't wait to hear what you think of version 2.0. 

You can read all of my posts about our first [Frankenstein] run here

Get [Frankenstein] tickets for October 27 and/or October 28 here.

Spead the word, friends. And, as always, thank you.