I was trying to come up with a profile description for my Twitter account. It was becoming more difficult than I would have guessed.
I wanted one that wasn’t overly clever or aggressively absurdist like the Black Metal Cats (@evilbmcats) account I follow, “De mysteriis dom sathanas cattus” or Dan Harmon’s (@danharmon) “grappenmaker; boulevardier; I take four deep four second breaths four times a day and it makes me better than you so eat it.” Both of which I like but just can’t bring myself to imitated. I wanted my Twitter profile to be one that was a bit snide but accurate giving others an insight into how I view myself.
For the longest time I went with ‘autodidactic morally superior misanthrope enduring you,’ but decided a few years ago this was trying too hard and needlessly abrasive. So then the attempt was to compose a profile bio simply listing my vocation(s): adjunct professor, quasi-literary editor, indie author, amateur soccer pundit, and house-spouse. It felt like a chore: dull, uninspired, and superfluous. Doing so hit home that I live in a society that determines value through your job and your status within that market.
Freelancer, I guess, would be an inoffensive way to state who I am.
Calling myself a freelancer just puts the adage ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ in my head. Simple fact is, I read (books, films, television, songs, sport, performance, and art), then think about what I’ve read to write about it, to give form to thought.
In the current economy, I guess I could say I’m a content provider. Yet by saying that, I have to acknowledge and accept a hard fact: everyone expects content to be free. Writing (content, if we must) is expected to be there, whether we pay for it or not. The vast majority of us view it the same way as we do music; no one pays for music, yet we always expect it to be there.
It’s a woefully impecunious profession. Made all the more disheartening by realizing just how many other people out there do what I do but do it better. But I don’t know how to do anything else, nor do I really want to do anything else. In my depressive moments, I realize I’ve somehow so internalized Lloyd Dobler’s Say Anything speech that I’m an adult grotesquely out of sync with the adult world.
Such is a ridiculous way to live, I’m nearly 40. Yet aside from asserting to new folks when I meet them that I and the woman I’m marry with are wilfully childfree as well as unimpressed or concerned with heteronormative gender roles, I don’t really have a casual, pithy way to summate myself.
For the last few months, I’ve gone with ‘Atheistic Pacifist Green Marxist.’ Again, perhaps more than a bit over the top, but given my own refusal to embrace consumerist values, advocacy for social equity and environmental justice, refusal to grant violence any moral standing, and casual if not banal irreligiosity describing myself in those four terms makes the most sense. It’s accurate.
It’s also sobering. Given the fear of refugees, the hatred of people of color, deification of militarism, and embrace of avarice that it seems so many of those around me in this nation hold dear to their hearts, a core of their national identity, I think my four words marks me as grotesquely un-American.
Maybe I’m just experiencing a cultural low point, taking part in a kind of social depression which is why I see the negative qualities I’ve listed so prevalent. I need to think through what I mean when I say atheistic, pacifist, green, and Marxist. Perhaps I don’t really understand what I’m saying when I apply this terminology, or perhaps I do, but when taken together the four terms create something other than what I intend.
How you see yourself matters. How others see you will be determined by this. Profiles don’t matter; Twitter doesn’t matter. They’re only tools, but tools that allow you to get into how you are yourself.
It’s something to think about…