Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 18 - I'm awesome.

August 24th, 2009

I received an email from a friend this morning and the subject title was “Ahem.” He had attached a link to a CNN Article: “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers.” I knew the one he intended me to resonate with was the “The Self-Promoter.” I thought it was hilarious, laughed at myself and absolutely didn’t deny it. Those of us in the arts often have to take PR matters into our own hands. I’m not the first to do it. And certainly won’t be the last. I thanked him for passing the article along and for providing inspiration for Day 18’s blog entry topic: Self Promotion.

Now. We have self promotion and the dreaded SHAMELESS self promotion. I see myself falling into the former but I can admit that there have been times when I've gotten my toes wet in the later. But for the most part I do agree with the annoyance and disgrace of overdoing it with getting too much out there about ourselves and endeavors. But today is about the less vile: Self Promotion. After extensive and lengthy research(the past few hours in my head), I dare to throw out the idea that various degrees of self PR is a vital part of our human experience.

Our parents started to aggressively market us as soon as we were born.” You have to come see the babyyyyy.” “Isn’t she beautiful?” “Look at his eyes. He must have a high IQ. Off the charts!” Our little baby DNA must have picked up on some of that “I must be pretty kick ass” energy. As young children, we fill our room with little league trophies and swim team ribbons just to let friends at our sleepovers know that we’re most definitely worthy of praise. Along the same line, once we hit adulthood, our office walls are graced with fancy framed post collegiate degrees and perhaps a picture of us shaking hands with a President.

It seems a certain amount of self promotion is expected and revered in today’s world. But how much is too much? Perhaps a guide book would be helpful. Let’s title it “Self Promotion No No’s.” I like the title because it sounds whimsical and cutthroat at the same time.

A sample of what we’ll find inside:

1) It is absolutely OK to send 5 mass emails out about an upcoming show. But once you reach 6 you should begin some serious self reflection.

2) At a dinner party, it is fine to talk about your new business venture for 10 minutes. After that, you should be aware that your friends just hate you.

3) At the local pub, you can brag about how hot your new girlfriend is for 12 minutes. 15 if she’s really smokin’. Once that grace period is over, you will be punished by watching her have “intimate relations” with your best friend.

Unfortunately we have no rule book so we’re left to decipher the “How much is too much” line on our own. There are so many levels of getting the word out about…well , ourselves. I sense that we might even have a primal craving for it. On both ends of the spectrum: Promoting ourselves and getting the goods on people we know. When taken in stride, it certainly can make life a little more interesting.

I credit today’s promotional topic with why I can (kind of) speak French fluently. My très petit chain smoking high school French teacher was named Ms. White..or as we called her, Madame Blanche. She often thought I was stoned when that wasn’t the case. In fact, I found these lighthearted accusations ironic because I was pretty straight laced in high school. She would frequently ask “Jacqueline, est-ce tu as fume une cigarette speciale?” Oops. I got off track. My apologies. To express is to heal. Meanwhile, the first half of class was dedicated to gossiping (definitely under the self promotion umbrella) about our lives. Our family’s lives. Our friends’ lives. One guideline: It had to be in French. If people were willing to publicly relate how drunk they got the previous weekend and who hooked up with who, I absolutely wanted in on this information. You would too. Admit it. Needless to say, I was relatively fluent in this romance language in a matter of weeks.

Sometimes circumstances can arise that promotes something about us that isn’t necessarily desired and out of our control. One night in college I was sitting in my living room with a guy I had been out with a few times and my roommates. I had a very minor case of eczema on my arm and my family was VERY concerned. With a full audience within earshot, I played the answering machine and my Rash Publicity was in full swing:

“Hi Jax, it’s your bro. Nice talking to you earlier. Sorry about the rash. We could call mom but she’s abroad and we probably shouldn’t worry her.”

“Jacqueline it’s Uncle Ronnie. Heard about the rash. Your brother filled me in. Give me a call. Immediately.”

Hey darlin’, it’s Grandma, Ronnie told me about the rash. We’ll get through this. As a family.”

The current Facebook addiction has taken self promotion to new gigantean heights. Just the nature of an online community is a self marketing machine that allows us to share just the best part of ourselves…we might even start to believe it. Everyone is happy, beautiful and successful in Facebook Land. Why would we share our demons with a virtual community when we can be the architect of our own image that offers us the canvas to make our families perfect and creative types more interesting than they actually are.

Is simply the act of being a functioning human being an element of promoting ourselves? If we’re not open to share and express what makes us “us”..does that mean we are lost and lack self esteem? The self help gurus preach that a lack of self confidence can be reversed by giving ourselves a little personal self promotion. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough….” You know the rest.

I can’t break this down anymore because my brain hurts.

I’ll leave you with this. Perhaps you’re just not the type of person with the temperament, interest or resources to publicize your goods. Totally valid. Just remember that you can outsource. Doting parents, high powered agents and wingmen are experts at getting the job done.

If you like this Blog, please email it to everyone you know. Shameless.

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