Your Personal Brand: Part 1

Hi!  I want to give this next series of blogs a bit of a forward because this is a long blog, or at least it was before I decided to chop it into a few bits.  The idea of a personal brand isn’t new but it has come up a lot lately and so I thought it might be a good idea to really explore the idea.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t really kept up with my blog and this entry is part of the reason why.  I’m really hoping and looking forward to the discussions that this subject might spawn.  Enjoy!

I was talking with Rene recently about people, how the mob mentality works and the effect of social media.and then the subject raised again at a friend’s birthday party.  We were talking about social networking and social media and how it has effected our lives and business.  The conversation took an interesting turn when we discussed our ages.  All of us are in our 30’s-40’s, we’re the last generation of people who grew up without the internet in our homes.  For us we’re learning the internet as a tool,  not as a “given”.  We did research for papers when we first found the internet, now you can make friends and can instantly give opinions on just about anything.  Privacy is now marginalized.  People younger than I am don’t necessarily consider privacy the same way as people my age or older do.  It’s a rapidly changing world and the technology isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, but what does that mean for me and people like me?  What does it mean for the younger set and all the children who are being born and growing up in a world that they partially inhabit online?

I’m gonna’ roll back the clock here – to 3rd grade, Mrs. Guazzo’s class and our first trip to the computer lab.  This was 1986 and my family didn’t have a personal computer.  In fact none of my friends at the time had a personal computer, that I remember, except for Tommy Pollard and the only thing we knew how to do on it was play “California Games” which was a collection of beach themed sports, surfing, skate boarding, etc., other than that my trip to the computer lab was the only real encounter I had had with a computer.  I remember hearing my classmates getting excited, “Can we play Oregon Trail?” and murmuring about other things that they had apparently already seen.  There was no Oregon Trail that day, or any day after actually.  Sometimes I feel like I’m the only kid that never actually saw or played the game Oregon Trail and now you can download a pretty advanced version of it to play on your cell phone, but I digress…
We walked into the computer lab, a class room that had tables covered in computers instead of desks, and we were sat in front of our own Apple IIe’s.  Kind of neat, actually, considering that now that classroom must be an actual classroom now and I doubt that class sizes are small enough that each student would get a computer.  Although I remember, even then, times when we had to share two to a computer, but that’s not important right now.  What we did in computer class was practice our computer skills, this included typing (a skill I still haven’t mastered or taken the time to re-learn – although I do type around 60-75 words a minute even with my hunt ‘n peck), turtle shuttle (a game where the “turtle,” the arrow that is on your screen RIGHT NOW, was moved around the screen by typing commands  about how many degrees to rotate and then a numerical value that would equal a certain distance across the screen.  There were maze transparencies that they would tape in front of the screen that we were supposed to navigate.  A line coming out from behind the turtle would show your path and keep you honest.  I really liked that game.  There was also a game where you drove a car and had to run a certain number of errands for your aunt before you ran out of gas.  I liked that game too, but remember thinking how much gas the car we “drove” must have used because you really couldn’t get very far, maybe three blocks, before you needed to refuel.   Not very “green,” but it was the 80’s and we only cared about saving the whales back then – they even made a Star Trek movie about it!

I remember the first Macintosh computers coming to homes.  I remember BBS’s and when my friend Scott came home with a 14.4 bod modem that cost him hundreds of dollars!  I remember when America Online was THE way to get on the internet and how they used to charge you by the hour.  Chat rooms and ICQ.  The beginning of online gaming and when email started to overtake snail mail – and it’s when email became so prevalent that only the smartest of people began to realize what it really meant to have an email address.  That email address was your online persona.  It represented you in the digital world and to those of us that were too young or too shortsighted to see the future it seemed like a fun new fad and not the necessary business tool that it has become.  We had fun monikers, like my first AOL account name chickenshackkid which was the only name I could come up with that wasn’t already taken.  They were alter egos, things that we wanted to be or thought of ourselves in an alternate life.  Mine was the name of a character I had played a few years before I got my address.  I chose it because I wanted the world to know, even if it was in a very obscure way, that I was a working actor – no matter the caliber of the role.  I remember screen names and email addresses like naughtyprincess, cubsfan238, or eric51 all names that identified the owner by how they wanted to be known in the digital world – but many of these names weren’t thought out enough to carry into the “real” world.  And then came the DOTCOM boom and suddenly if you had a business you were trying to figure out how to take it online…


Filed under art, Facebook, fad, filmmaking, friends, making movies, social commentary, social networking

6 Responses to Your Personal Brand: Part 1

  1. Wow…this has brought me back to the younger years! So funny to think of all of that with how things are now.

  2. Heehee! Turtle shuttle, yeah! Did your computer teacher obsess about kids putting their fingers in their mouths and then touching the keys? 😛 I played Oregon Trail at one of my mother’s friend’s houses when she brought me along on a visit. It was the only thing for a kid my age to do, but it was fun losing all of my livestock whenever I tried to ford the river! Haha! By the way, and I don’t know if it’s intentional, but have you noticed that all of the silver balls in that picture above look like their baring down and staring at the red one?

  3. I don’t know if it’s intentional either, but the fact that “individuality” is sorted, packaged and sold at Hot Topic gives credence to your idea. I picked this image off gut instinct, maybe I was tapping into what you’re talking about?

  4. Ah! The power of the hidden message. *~_^* Funny, too that the sort of “individuality” sold at Hot Topic is for the “emos” and “goths.” You know? The ones that get grumpy when someone looks at them the wrong way. Way to stick out like a sore thumb, red ball!
    Also, Hot Topic has been raping our childhoods (word? maybe?) in marketing t-shirts featuring Muppets, comic heros/villians, Disney characters and The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth, among other things. I can’t give them much credence. :/ You’ve got me thinking, though.

  5. It’s funny you mention that, I hadn’t really thought about clothing and how they’re sold to the youth/teen market until I found an inter-office catalogue at a Macy’s by the changing room. The marketing plan for each brand on sale was listed next to the clothing. Each description was a blunt, clinical breakdown of the type of youth/teen each clothing line was aimed out. The only description that sticks with me was the one for the “teens who prefer alternative styles” and then went on to discuss how the marketing was designed to engage the kids who weren’t ready for Hot Topic yet, but still wanted to be seen as having an edge. As I read it it suddenly became very real to me that teenage rebellion is merely seen as dollar signs to the canny marketer.

    There is no true rebellion, just the idea of rebellion on sale at stores everywhere.

  6. So true! Kids looking to be different go for the “alternative” styles, when really that’s what all of the tweens are wearing. When we were young, alternative was a new concept and worked back then. Now it’s, as you say, “merely dollar signs” and “buy this if you want to be different!” Oh! I wish I had that pretty mind back! 😛

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