Branding, antibranding and rebranding on the wu wei – Trigger warning.

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.

About seanmurgatroyd
Library (Shared blog): http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Personal including infoculture, book reviews: http://diligentroom.wordpress.com/ Music: http://seanfishmusic.wordpress.com/ Last.fm band page: http://www.last.fm/music/Seanfish @seanfish

2 Responses to Branding, antibranding and rebranding on the wu wei – Trigger warning.

  1. Hi Sean

    I don’t know how much me and mine can help but we are here if you need us. You have our utmost respect for how you are dealing with your problems and we think you are incredibly brave.

    I can’t really comment on the book as I don’t know what it is, but from my reading I didn’t think you could have safe “nonconsensual lifestyle BDSM”. Everything I have read says that consent is a cornerstone of the BDSM community. Do you know/read Emma hart at public address? http://publicaddress.net/about-emma-hart/ Aka @ghetsuhm on twitter? She often deals with these issues in her writings.

    Take care my friend

    Lots of Aroha

    Michael and Kylie

    • seanmurgatroyd says:

      Good, honest friends friends such as you and yours are all the support I need. People who care enough to remind me of what I want from life at those times I forget.

      I am like Prince Rillian, if you like. The brash, confident self I became to survive can tell you any number of stories, and will particularly warn you to ignore any requests for help while I am tied to the Silver Chair. The true me is quiet, thoughtful – sometimes brilliant but always caring.

      I’m seeking confident humility, and you guys have always been an inspiration – remind me to steady and I will thank you for it. If I am not being a good friend, and gentle with the world – you two have permission to give me a very good telling off – remind me who I am really hurting (me). I will listen at the time and will be able to act after I have had time to think. Be like Eustace and Jill (with the help of Puddleglum – maybe one of the animals can stand in?) and break my Sliver Chair time you see me start to rebuild it.

      I know, and always knew, there is no such thing as nonconsensual and safe – I don’t even think of people in an intimate way unless I know for a fact they would be comfortable with it, fantasy or not. I might look at someone and say to myself “yum”, but no more. It just doesn’t feel right, and even when I’m feeling like a very “wicked” person indeed, I wish to seduce willing partners in ways that are mutually enjoyable (kinky or otherwise), not take from unwilling ones.

      The book is a work of fiction, and it was the wrongness of the fantasy that did the damage. I tried to understand a logical impossibility, and that broke me far more readily than thoughts of any particular kind of intimacy. That’s how my mind is – the strange is everyday but the everyday – something that can be borrowed from a library shelf – can destroy me.

      I’ve seem Emma’s handle in passing – as you do – but I wasn’t aware of her work. I am definitely wanting to do a lot of work so that this area of my life won’t be unsafe for myself and others in the future, so I’ll use her as one of my starting off points.

      Thanks for getting in touch, true friends.
      Sean

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