Over the last year and a half I have been exploring the concept of antibranding in response to the “personal brand” movement. In my case, I developed a system I referred to the “Hack Me Bro” ethic.
For me, this ethic arose out of a need to protect damaged parts of my psyche from others. I have very big buttons that are very easy to push, and I react wonderfully to that pushing. A strategy to keep my true nature and identity unavailable to others felt safer than a strategy of openness.
“Hack me” assumes that I am an information system, which is true, but it also assumes intent to invade. It is a paranoid construct, with “Bro” in this case appended as a challenge. Where perceived hacking is taking place, systems must be continually be developed and redevloped in order to maintain the a feeling of safety. A blog called “Discourse Analysis Overdose” is needed not to communicate but to moderate increasing levels of internal stress and distress.
The key weakness in this system is that all information must be processed and made sense of, particularly in relation to others who show signs, or outright state, that they are also proceeding from similar assumptions. Hacking with intent can be blocked, but I had no tool to respond to noninvasive sharing of nonetheless potentially damaging information.
Last year I was recommended a book by a friend, and I chose to read it. I was unware of and unprepared for the impact it would have on me. This weekend I realised the nature and extent of that impact, and as a result I lost control of myself – I had an episode, which has already had serious consequences and will continue to do so.
The book contained descriptions of nonconsensual lifestyle BDSM in a romantic frame. It made me realise the fantasy lives of others could be markedly different than my own, and I wished to understand how nonconsenual and romantic could possibly apply.
I applied my analytical engine to these matters, and the conflicts in this appalling construct tore me apart. As far as I am concerned, it is up to people how they love one another and fantasise, however I did not previously have the ability to separate fantasy from reality simply because I was working so very hard to keep reality at bay.
Yesterday I was talking to my case worker. As usual after a crisis, we were working through some version of the social anxiety/mood disorder checklist. Her manner, and her questions changed sharply after I described the book in question.
Was I feeling anger? Yes.
Was it for particular people? Yes.
Did I feel a wish to harm people? No.
Did I feel a wish to harm the particular person I was feeling anger towards? No.
Time and time again these points were checked. Time and time again I considered, and calmly responded, knowing the answers were very important – that it was safe in this relationship to say whether I wished to harm other people or myself, if that was actually the case. I clarified that after two years of mindfulness work I had found that I was starting to be able to connect with feelings I had suppressed for decades, and that I was learning how to release trauma constructively, and continued to learn from situations. I acknowledged the huge risks implied by connecting with the more damaged parts of myself.
What are the risks? If that connection isn’t via growing and healing, I will be driven towards towards the antisocial spectrum of mental illness. I will be in touch with very dark and damaged parts of myself, and if I do not also have compassion I will be a risk to myself and all those around me. I can be a very effective person, so I would readily be able to protect myself from risk in that scenario.
I have the opportunity to become a complete person, or to lose all, having lived a life in the half-light.
I must state from my experience that antibranding as a stated personal position in a public space is a nonsense. A stated position in a public space is a brand. “Antibranding” is a brand.
It is also potentially an extremely dangerous one.
I am no longer anti-branding. I am renaming this blog simply seanfish. I will protect confidences of others, but be open about myself, and let that be my personal brand.
I will start with a request: I need help, for I need to connect with darkness to heal, and I will not allow that darkness to reclaim me. I already have many helpers, but I will always need more.
I will follow with a stipulation: To grow, I cannot only take. I must be allowed to give too. I can only accept help from people who are able to own their own needs in clear ways. In this way I will not risk erroneously giving that which has not been asked for.