I changed my Twitter and Instagram handles the other day (both to iamgaryallen) — partly in preparation for starting this blog.
I had decided that “blogfaced” no longer represented me in 2018. Actually, it only really made sense for about a week in 2009 but such is life.
Personal branding is a bit of a strange thing. In the dawn of the internet, we were all encouraged to keep personal and professional profiles separate, thereby protecting one’s “professional” image from one’s “personal” foibles, but those walls didn’t stand very long.
It’s become pretty clear in 2018 that it’s harder than ever to present only segments of your life to particular people and that blending is both exciting and challenging.
For me personally, it’s an exciting change because I prefer to present a wholistic version of myself in most situations. In looking for a new handle I wanted something that would serve the personal and professional needs I have in an online persona and something that was relatively timeless (that I wouldn’t likely have to change again).
I’ll be 100% honest and say that led me to a pretty straight-forward handle, albeit one that I’m pretty happy with and was lucky to secure on the platforms that I wanted.
…But this thought process (and the work involved) also made me think about what kind of effect this change might have on young people.
The adults of tomorrow are growing up in a world where they’re expected to share a lot of their personal lives for public scrutiny, and frankly that’s a little scary.
Maybe this is a less of a worry for those not in tech, but children are increasingly pushed to be aware of their personal “brand” at an ever younger age.
It’s possible that I’m the dinosaur here, and that it’s only work for me because I’m not net-native, but I suspect that this obsession with appearances, and constant public scrutiny (not to mention increasing corporate influence) has a damaging effect on people finding their own voices.
As with many things in 2018, it’s fascinating to watch our culture change at a breakneck speed, even if it’s also worrying.