I’m only 17 and don’t know much about ‘real life’, but I certainly know ‘enough’ about the internet realm to pass on some advice to others. It’s the only world I’ve experienced in full.
Why I think personal branding is important:
The word personal brand is, at this point, post-ironic. It was originally used by business-minded squares in the ’80s and was eventually adopted by tongue-in-cheek writers, bloggers, and literary icons on and off the cybersphere. I dont take the term as seriously as people expect me to; its a gimmicky phrase that refers to the summation of facets that define my identity. My personal brand is the way in which I present myself to those who follow along with my internet lifestream.’ Its like an inside joke I share with the community of people who choose to acknowledge and validate my existence. Personal branding is important because it makes me approachable. I make myself vulnerable to those who express interest, but not so much that I take negative criticism too personally. A lot of my humor is self-deprecating, and because of it, Im practically invincible. Anons and trolls can say what they want about me, but if Ive already identified all my unlikable characteristics, theres not much they can do to bring me down. Im self-aware. Im my worst enemy, and Im also my own hero.
Why we shouldnt take what happens on the internet so seriously:
Most of my impressionable teen years have been oriented entirely around the world wide web. Ive fostered friendships on Facebook, composed 140 character love letters on Twitter, and even had my heart broken when I was dumped over Myspace. The list of my internet-related experiences is longer than Shakespeares library of complete works. Did I tell you about that time I fell in love with a complete stranger after talking to him for four hours on gchat? Oh, and get this he didnt even live on the same continent as me. In fact, his time zone was an entire day ahead of mine. We never met, video chatted every other month, and eventually moved on from one another after having an earth-shatteringly profound epiphany what the hell are we doing with our lives? Nothing pixelated is meant to be taken as seriously as we secretly want it to be. Sure, theres nothing wrong with resorting to online dating sitese in an effort to find a mate. But even that requires cyber-sagacity and virtual street smarts. Im ready to take life by the keyboard, but only after Ive accepted that the internet can be just as mean as the real world; it is populated by the same people, isnt it?
Why there shouldnt be a stigma associated with subcultures:
Adolescents are often known to reject labels. They dont want to be pinned, pigeonholed, or understood whatsoever. As a 17-year-old whos gone through my own share of identity crises and existential meltdowns, I can safely say that its overwhelmingly frustrating to be so well-understood by the media when I can barely even understand myself. But in truth, most of us are pretty predictable. We shop at the same stores, follow the same trends, and adopt the same ideologies; even those that preach rejecting all ideologies in the first place. Non-conformists conform to non-conformity, rebels obey by the rules of their exclusive community, and free-spirits are still limited by laws of the land. Were all part of the same species! Humans love company. If we want to protest convention, we do it in groups because theres power in numbers. The point is, belonging to a subculture does not require one to sacrifice his or her individuality. No two people share the same thought process, livelihood, and collection of experiences. Once we become contented in that notion and adopt a sense of self-awareness, we can stop harboring so much resentment towards those whod like to sort us out.
Why judging others isnt as sinful as society makes it out to be:
Within the first fifteen seconds of encountering another human being, individuals judge each other subconsciously. No, the human race is not deeply flawed. Its nature. Human instinct causes us to size up one another as a survival instinct. We deliberately look for weaknesses in those we interact with as a result of our animalistic ancestry. Luckily, humans dont rely on physical disadvantages to solve problems in the work place, social scene, or realm of relationships; were smart enough to mentally manipulate one another and employ civility into our confrontations. But that isnt to say rampant judgment isnt present in the collective bloodstream of mankind. Immediate and critical interpretations of others arent mans problem, so we shouldnt aim to eliminate it from our daily lives. What should be eliminated is the extent to which we allow those interpretations to impede with our ability to foster relationships. Humans have evolved into a civil race; were certainly clear-minded enough to give each other a chance regardless of what our first impressions are.
Why dressing well is imperative:
Walk into a Wal-Mart any day of the week and chances are, 90 percent of the people you observe will be decked out in athletic shorts, oversize t-shirts and flips flops of the 99-cent-store variety. While many people justify this behavior as catering toward comfort preferences, its downright inexcusable. Fifty years ago, women never left the house without their hair coiffed, cheeks pinched and dress ironed. Coco Chanel revolutionized fashion by making everyday attire more bearable. But apparently that wasnt good enough. It isnt sinful that people are utilitarian in their fashion choices, but it suggests a sense of cold indifference when fellow members of the community have so little respect for others that they choose to dress in faded cotton and foam footwear. When people put the extra effort into improving their aesthetic, it acknowledges that the opinions of others are important to them. It is courteous. Presenting oneself in apparel that accentuates the figure or reflects a sense of sophistication and cosmopolitan awareness is one of the greatest (and unfortunately rarest) occurrences to come out of American society today. Dressing well isnt an unfavorably superficial practice its courtesy.
Bebe Zeva is an ex-suburbanite, “sassy as eff” alt teen blogger living in Las Vegas. Willow Smith may or may not have ripped off her dance move. Check out her new style blog, Fated to Be Hated.