The Ills of Personal Branding


The ills of personal branding are insidious. In this spinning ball of confusion, we are forced to commodify ourselves. We compete endlessly with one another because we are forced to sell our labor to survive, and the price of our labor is not set by us its set by the competition. There can be no equality or real understanding when the myth of scarcity pits us against one another. In the realm of social media, this competitive energy is compounded. In these realms of extremes where simple existence is boring, and consequently there is an endless curation of a self and not necessarily our true self, we all market ourselves in this competitive economy of being human in the 21st century. To be seen is to accumulate a kind of capital whether we want it to or not, but it is insidious as chipping away at our humanity. Think of how jealousy peaks its head unreasonably when scrolling through social media or how your friend's online personas don't often mirror their real-life selves and it irritates the fuck out of you. You don't hate your friend, you hate their brand. A brand is what someone says about you when you are not in the room, and that alone sends shivers down the spine of the anxious mess this branding creates in the first place. There is a fear born out of what we want to be seen as opposed to what we are and that fear makes for high profit for someone, just maybe not you. You learn to love it and yearn for it, it is the head nod from you doing simple shit from posting a bagel to pandering politics to your watchmen sitting in the panopticon.

You don’t hate your friend, you hate their brand.

We do this by sort of consenting to social media chronicling our past accomplishments and our potential to create more output on more extreme levels. You need to outdo the previous life stuff, much like how businesses compare last years sales to this years. If there is no 'growth' if you don't 'outdo' than you are a failing business and in consequence, a failing human. The metrics of your worth become based upon your productivity or even less the feigning of productivity. The worst of it is the feigning of resistance via this form of light narcissism, it quite often invisiblizes the oppressed, when its eclipsed by the next big thing. In a few words, what have you done, and what can you do? Ability and achievement are noticed in real time by the ones that matter. Personal branding is an exaggeration of the self that deftly pacifies you. An endless cycle of self promotion.

You don’t hate people you hate working and social media is a form of unpaid labor.

It's a minefield because we all want to be noticed, it is in our nature to be seen how can we have both? Or how did we do it before? That kind of assumption that the past was better is a kind of revisionist farce. There has always been herding methods but maybe none as effective as the current. The increasing isolation of this world widens the fissures between us and leads us towards a more selfish existence. Self-Care is often defined as doing something good for yourself and getting away from people; when I would argue that the separation seeking is what conjures the weapons blurring the self. You dont hate people you hate working and social media is a form of unpaid labor. Feeling bad? Go spend some money on yourself, fuck the rest, you matter most, you are unique. Our personal branding is apparent in the ways people greet each other with their online handles in an almost sci-fi dystopian future kind of way. Our lifestyles become a brand a sellable solution to the isolation. Seek out the validation because failure and success is nothing without a witness, no? In part, it seems that most failures disappear until its time for you to be cashed out digitally. There is a difference between fame and recognition, and the social structure has slowly been seeding everyone towards the false praise of fame. The ill's of personal branding are insidious and many. I was so stuck on it once and still bi-weekly fall into its attraction. It has created new vices within me that I have yet to tame. I would like to balance the fear of erasure and fear of visibility. Moving forward I have made it a goal to engage more with others intimately, try to keep more things close to the chest, mind my business a bit more and also coalition build to truly see others and myself in the form we should all be seen awkward and infinitely complex.

Richard Gutierrez