We Turn Ourselves Into Products, Then People Treat Us Like Products
Hi, I’m Anna Mercury and I’m a brand.
I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but Mercury is not my real surname. It’s not an homage to Freddie either. I just like the planet.
When I sign onto this strange portal between the worlds and don the Mercury mask, I cease to really be me. There is a human sitting at a laptop typing this, bipedal and carbon-based, chock full of hopes and dreams and fears and gut problems, but this — what you see before you — can never really be me. This is a performance. I strive for it to be authentic, whatever that means, but once my thoughts have been performed here for you, dear readers, the authenticity becomes part of the act.
Welcome to the uncanny valley.
A blog is really little more than a dolled-up Instagram feed of the mind. I select only what musings I deem relatable and profound enough to submit for your reading pleasure. If you notice, I didn’t post the six drafts of that message I workshopped with my friend before I sent it to my ex. You don’t see my grocery list, my morning pages or the weird ideas for short stories I jot down in the middle of the night. Except this one: A farmer wakes up one day to find he can hear all his animals’ thoughts and they’re just endlessly roasting him.
What you get here is what I decide you should see, only the words that fit some crafted idea of what Anna Mercury says.
That’s because Anna Mercury isn’t me. Anna Mercury is a brand. It has a logo. It has a tagline. It delivers a product. You’re buying it now. I am Anna Mercury’s publicist.
In this case, the nom de plume is the dead giveaway, but the branding of ourselves isn’t always so obvious. My real-life Instagram feed is also a performance, posed and curated to fit the identity I want to show the world. Hell, my real life is a performance. I choose which parts of me I show to which people, not always consciously, but the effect is still chameleonic (I prefer the term mercurial).
It’s not really an issue of authenticity; it’s just a reality that no one can be privy to the whole totality of another person. We can’t even see the…