Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thought Experiment: Identity Branding

Recently I’ve been mulling over various issues related to life, and related to everyone’s role in the internet, and pondering a new term to describe a set of ideas – “Identity Branding”, meaning a device used by people in the blogosphere, or internet media, where the identity of being angry, or superficial, or ultra intellectual, or crass, has become its own brand within on-line discussions. While terms like “Identity Politics” is freely thrown around like confetti in this day and age, perhaps we should consider this. My terminology is still being developed, and I realize the very phrase, some might argue, seems like an oxymoron or a misnomer. The Blog, in the past have explored related subjects in depth, here, here, here, here, and here and it’s time to expand the dialog. I see the results of this phenomenon, Identity branding, frequently, and how I came about this epiphany has been a slow process that I couldn’t articulate as I was working through my own frustrations for a good number of months. This phrase could be elaborated on as “Ideological Identity Branding” as well. When I think of the slogan phrase from The X-Files: “Trust No One”, I think of it as having several layers of meaning, one being don’t trust the government, don’t trust corporations, or trust religious institutions based on dogma.


But my personal interpretation of the phrase has been more along the line of “Don’t accept things at face value.” Retired political Radio personality Randi Rhodes, while acknowledging the cesspool that is talk radio used to say: “I know the company I keep, don’t take my word for it, and look it up yourself.” This crystallizes for me the problem of Identity branding in relation to the internet. We all participate in identity branding, all of us who writes blogs, I do too, and this isn’t about discouraging anyone from the business of blogging, but it was about starting a dialog to become mindful of the mechanizations of identity branding. There’s a relationship between the writer and the reader indeed, while this process can be beneficial, it can be detrimental when the writer is perceived as an authority figure in excess. Identity branding can victimize the reader to lose all sense of themselves, to the point of becoming too invested in championing the point of view, or agenda of the writer. The byproduct of identity branding is that the very notion of ‘free thought’ on either side of the political divide is gone. What is left is a kind of white noise that leaves everyone with closed minds, and the inability of listen. Therefore, the ability to process and accept and reject what you wish to on any given point has been taken away, all for the sake of the validation of a higher figure. This also applies to discussions about gender equality, racial equality, or sexual orientation.

Instead of the goal to encourage free thought, this identity branding is like a Frankenstein creature of unintended consequences, where people form around their own clicks to such a degree, the intention of democratic dialog dovetails into uniform thinking within those clicks. This device is used to demonize people whom, in most areas, share the same goals, but differ on certain points. I really had assumed that this phrase was already part of the Lexicon of the advertising world, or marketing world, but it seems to not be the case. Therefore I will be developing this term and refining it, and hope readers will start to ponder this point while going on with their day to day lives. More to come.

Addendum: The XFL Blog will be resuming its reviews by Christopher Irish, who has been busy elsewhere with a special project.

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