I wonder what Drew Barrymore is doing right now?
This question is a scab on my brain. I frequently find myself picking at it whenever I engage in back-breaking labour. Is Drew also shovelling two cubic metres of mulch right now? Could be. Let’s check out her Instagram page. Nope. There she is – not shovelling mulch.
Perhaps Drew did shovel some mulch today but decided that episode in her life wasn’t nearly as interesting (fair, I say) as sharing her makeup line (I love her dewy skin spray), home wares line, skincare tips and (insert more glamorous things Drew does).
I don’t mean to pick on Drew. Gertie P is a Drew B fan. But since starting this blog I’ve been thinking: why did I do this? I wasn’t an adorable child actress come stunning boss-woman. No one is going to find me interesting (that’s if they find me). So, if no one will read this, why do I choose to finger paint in this corner of the interwebs?
I launched this website a week or so ago. If I google Gertie Puckles (come on, we all do it) my website does not present centre stage. Bummer.
I find myself asking, just as Poletti and Rak do, who in our Web 2.0 world ‘gets to have a life worthy of representation?’ (2014, p. 6). I see their question and raise them one of my own: is my life worthy of representation? If you say yes, I promise to water the flowers and pull the weeds in my little patch of blog.
To some extent, I agree with Lanier when he writes that ‘pop culture has entered into a world of malaise’ (2010, p. 20). My Instagram feed is filled with memes layered on famous faces from sliced scenes of movies. Unless that meme features a cat, they are meh at best. But, in this COVID-19 world, people with little else to do are turning inwards and finding a creative well within. I too am one of these people. I followed Lanier’s advice and created a website that expresses something about who I am (2010, p. 21).
The Many Fonts of Gertie by Gertie Puckles, 6 April 2020, Made with Canva
I think I nailed it. This font reflects the ‘true essence’ of Gertie (Smith and Watson, 2014, p. 71).
According to Lanier, this ‘new generation’ has a ‘reduced expectation of what a person can be’ (2010, p. 3). Sweet. That works for me. If people aren’t aiming too high, with mulch shovelling selfies, then maybe I will have a readership too. Dear audience, let me feed you with my melancholy (Smith and Watson 2014, p. 74).
As Smith and Watson aver, ‘online lives exist in complicated relationships to offline lives’ (2014, p. 70). Fist bump to that. Being a human is hard. I think I’ve said it in every post so far. Whether it’s on a web page or at a party, we all want to be noticed, we all want to be the funniest, bestest person in the room. Does that change when we enter the online world?
Yes and no. It’s amplified. It’s muted. Every post is a slice of me. Once I post I forget about it. Being human is complicated. I also agree when Smith and Watson state that ‘online environments are potent sites for constructing and trying out versions of self’ (2014, p. 75).
Today, Gertie shovels mulch, tomorrow who knows! And, why not. It’s safe and warm here in Web 2.0, right? I hope people behave themselves on my website and don’t ‘degenerate into mindless chains of anonymous insults’ (Lanier 2010, p. 2). That would hurt my feelings.
Is the representation of an online-self calculated? Of course. This font didn’t just choose itself. You’ll probably never see me or Drew shovelling mulch on Instagram (is it because Drew lives in New York City and there is no mulch to be shovelled, perhaps?). But that doesn’t make the episodes in her life (and yours and mine) less authentic (Smith and Watson 2014, p. 75).
Identity is the expression of consciousness’ (Poletti and Rak 2014, p. 8) and each post is a little piece of me: my thoughts and my hopes (come on Metallica Christmas album). I’m here to try and build my own legacy using my, ahem, talent. If this monumentally fails, I can delete my legacy, not renew my web domain and move on with my terrestrial life.
If a word falls on a blog post and no one reads it, does it prove the written word is dead? Or that I, Gertie Puckles, am just wandering through the desolate scrub of online writing, searching for some validation.
Always, she says. Always.
Lanier, J 2010, You Are Not a Gadget, Alfred A. Knopf, USA, pp. 1-30
Poletti, A and Rak, J 2014, ‘Introduction: Digital Dialogues’, in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press,, Madison, pp. 3-11
Smith, S and Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self-Presentation’, in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.), Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 70-95