Being Professional vs. Being Interesting: Why I Changed and Am Changing My Persona

boring-vs-interestingI used to think personality was king when it came to blogging.

That’s not entirely true. Content was king. But content is only interesting in one of two ways: (1) you’re saying something relevant and informative and ideally it’s new information and/or clearly stated, or (2) you’re saying something old but with such personality and flair that people want to read you just for the fun of it.

And since I had little in the way of “new” to say, I wanted to develop personality.

Idiot twenty-somethings with “personality.”

Yup. That was me.

Unfortunately while I was attempting to develop a blogger persona with personality I was also in my early twenties, just out of undergrad with all the maturity, discretion, tact, and life experience of such a person (read: a lot less than I thought I had). This was also a decade ago. At the time, I found new “rules of blogging” every few months. No . . . that came later. When I started blogging, there were very few people discussing “rules.” It was more of a pioneering feeling. We were just eeking out an existence. Making it up as we went. Fording rivers in our covered wagons and hoping not to die of dysentery.

The whole Be this! Be that! Do this! Do that! movement came later for blogging. Did I even know what a troll was? I’m not sure. But I would argue with people who left comments and I once had the author of a book I mentioned in passing as part of a blogpost on “mash-ups as trend” show up and leave a huffy comment on my podunk two-cent blog. Our sense of blogging decorum was makeshift when it existed at all. Heck we were so far back in the blogging wild west that the swanky new popular platform was because it was a step up from LiveJournal and MySpace.

All this is to say that I had a lot of growing to do. As I progressed through my twenties, I got a lot more thoughtful about what I said in a blog post and how I said it.

Then I had to develop a professional persona for blogging.

Combine the more-thoughtful me with a professional persona that needed to blog for a newly formed company and, well . . . my blogging “personality” got pretty damn dull.

Oh, I tried for a witty turn of the phrase here or there. But often they got edited out or smoothed over for clarity’s sake. I was so afraid of offending someone (all it took was one huffy comment for me to wonder how many people left in a huff without commenting), or creating misunderstanding (truly, the sort of questions I received and then re-wrote to anticipate were mind-boggling), or poorly representing the small press I was running (we were tiny and new, all we had to recommend us was the reputation, attitude, and transparency we presented online). So I tried to just produce information clearly and politely put. I tried to minimize eccentric outbursts however entertaining they may have been.

When those with whom I was working went for it and blogged in a . . . shall we say “personality driven” manner . . . they may have thought they were livening things up, but let me tell you, it in no way made me want to break free and follow suit. No. Hell no. It made me cringe. It was embarrassing. They were performing this behavior while talking promoting my company! Eep! A blog (or social media account) in professional context was not the place to throw shade or even mildly stir controversy or be silly. In the company I’d been working with a publicist, and every time I thought a phrase or topic or references was a maybe, I’d run it by the publicist. My maybes were almost always publicist’s nopes. So I learned to trust that twinge in my gut that said “don’t type that.”

The more it happened around me, I became even more straight-laced with all my online personas. That is, any account linked to my name not just my business.

Not a bad thing, honestly. Not everyone following me on social media wants to hear about my lunch or my latest emo tangent. I don’t need to express displeasure with every idiot who’s wrong, or hasn’t grasped a concept, or needs a recommendation on a product, or doesn’t fact check their shit before resharing on Facebook. I take a deep breath, I let it out. If I can be satisfied with a sigh instead of typing a reply, I consider it Adulting Success.

Consequently my online persona had less and less to talk about on my personal blog. Business only. Sure, a bit of Twitter chatting, but in blog form? Let’s stick to business.

I wasn’t blogging less and less on my personal blog because I had less time; I blogged less because when I stripped out the #2 concept from earlier (old information said in an interesting new manner) I had almost nothing I could say that would be worth reading.

These tides be a-turning . . . maybe.

When I sold the small press after over four years and was no longer blogging in my capacity as Editor-in-Chief, I thought I could take up the mantel of writer-with-a-personal-blog and develop an interesting blogging voice/persona again. But I was starting from scratch. (Which isn’t a bad thing having looked back at ye olde blog posts of pre-professional yore.) Trouble was: the desire for a non-controversial voice stuck with me.

After all, how could I be Chuck Wendig if I was submitting resumes?

See? Life constantly gets in the way of being witty and interesting. Because we would all be much more interesting if we could channel a sliver of Chuck Wendig into anything we do. . . . But only a sliver. Because if we were all talking like Chuck Wendig then the whole thing would normalize and become very boring very fast. But I digress.

Can a person (really, a persona, because we’re talking about a blog here) be both professional and interesting?

As an artist’s blog. Absolutely. Writer’s blog. Professional entertainer’s blog. Yup. Yup. (Note: writers and entertainers are all “artists” in my book and shall be referred to thusly for the remainder of the blog post. And the remainder of my life. Brace yourself for that if you must.) But as anything else? Any profession meant to achieve a goal other than entertain or blow our freaking minds by challenging all our preconceived notions of what art and life are? I continue to struggle in the belief that such a profession exists.

If profession is tied to the blogging persona of the non-artist then the content is more factually interesting and less entertaining.

All most of us who aren’t blogging about the industry knowledge of our day-jobs can hope for is leading a professional life and having an interesting online persona that our employers don’t care about enough to review.

So ignore me, I’m about to get interesting.

At least that’s the plan.

I am starting to blog again on whatever topics interest me. To have opinions and express them (express not repress). And to try to be a witty penmonkey . . . but not a chattering, shit-flinging penmonkey.

Why? Because I’m coming out of my professionalism coma and I need to find a way of writing regularly. Writing within a structure and deadline. And I desperately want to unpack all these thoughts wafting around in my head. So congratulations Blog & Eccentric Review: you’re the new home of heretofore wafting-thoughts.

How do I know if I’m so professional that I’m boring?

If you’re wondering am I boring? I offer these to chew on:

Of course, few of us can look inward and see a boring person. It seems looking into our blogging personas would be just as difficult.

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