Julia Allison, inconsiderate narcissist who lives in The Therapy Capital of Planet Earth and yet has never managed to find a therapist — and needs recommendations, haters!! — writes in the New York Post that criticism is not allowed. The woman who “rarely lies” also portrays herself as a girl with a dream who came to New York as a poor innocent waif with nothing to her name in order to find some magic, without mentioning, of course, that she’d left a cuckolded fiance behind in California to take up with the guy in New York who just happened to have a wife and kids and then proceeded to live in his vacated apartment free of charge for a year after they broke up.
By the way, it is THE INTERNET’S FAULT. It is not the product/content she puts out there for public consumption! No! She is an innocent victim of the Internet meanies!
I came to New York, like so many do, young and naive, with nothing, knowing no one. I had the same goals most of us have: establish a career, surround myself with friends, find love, learn what it means to be an adult, make some sort of life here for myself — and yes, maybe experience a little bit of magic along the way.
It also happened that, like many of us, I wanted to document this process — partly so I could remember it accurately, and partly so I could share it with the people I loved.
Ten years ago I might have sent mass e-mails to my family and friends, describing my experiences after the fact in words, perhaps sending them photographs every now and again: a decidedly limited exposition for a decidedly limited audience.
Christopher Peterson/BuzzFoto.coOnline personality Julia Allison with Lilly.
Online personality Julia Allison with Lilly.
But I also arrived in New York on the cusp of a communication revolution the likes of which humanity has never seen.
The combination of the technological ability to share my life, combined with my natural propensity to be emotionally open, paved the way for Lifecasting, a real-time public scrapbook/memoir/diary/photo album, which I’ve been doing for almost five years.
It always felt natural to me to share my life with others — something that may sound odd to people not weaned on Facebook, Twitter and blogging, but which is unquestioned in the Net Generation (those 25 and under). I wanted a way in which observers could tag along on my journey as a young woman, to peek into my daily life and watch as I grew up, experienced joy and loss and struggled through confusion. I hoped it would make people happy, entertain them, teach them something, help them feel less alone, maybe even inspire them.
I recorded everything from my birthday parties to first dates to visits with my parents to my continual frustration with my studio apartment, to my discomfort with turning 29 and being single, feeling lost, alone, unmoored in New York — to silly, funny thoughts that occurred to me in the moment (like last Tuesday at 9:29 a.m.: “Ever leave the house wondering if you are, in fact, wearing a wildly inappropriate outfit for a meeting?”). Instead of just thinking it (and forgetting it), I Twittered it, so that other people could say, “Oh yes, yes, I’ve thought that! I’ve felt that way! I too own leopard-print wrap dresses!”
Some of the musings are mundane, some are more profound, but they combine to form this organic modern art form: a new type of storytelling — a coming of age story told by the person coming of age, while they come of age.
This sort of intimacy is already the norm amongst the next generation. They live in a “Photo or it didn’t happen!” world, and the ubiquity of visual and auditory recording devices, as well as the ease and speed with which one can share their documentation, has inevitably led to a culture of sharing and transparency.
Their online identity isn’t an addendum, it is them.
This can be enormously empowering. Until recently, we lived in a world which told us only certain people deserved to have an audience — politicians, journalists, actors. Now anyone can share a witty remark, a wise thought, a fervent opinion or a sad story. You can also be — to a certain extent — whoever you want to be. And very few things are more central to human happiness than having autonomy over your identity.
But there’s the disturbing negative side to a life lived online. The criticism, the bullying, the mass disregard for considered reflection (very few follow the new permutation of the old adage: “Think before you blog”).
Which is why, though I love sharing my life, I decided to quit Lifecasting last week.
I just didn’t want to be judged any longer. That’s by far the biggest issue with opening up your life to others: judgment. Heaps and heaps and heaps of Other People’s Critiques — of you! Imagine sitting in a room with 400 people all yelling simultaneously about what, exactly, you should say, act, feel, do — and how, exactly, you’ve screwed up. Except these aren’t people who really know you. They just THINK they do, because you’ve shared some aspects of your life with them.
Part of life is growing and changing. The problem with documenting your life in a public space is that when you grow and change, your persona from yesteryear remains. The person I am now is not the person I was five years ago. You always see politicians getting slammed for “flip-flopping” — that can start to happen to “normal” human beings too, as their Google caches build up with years of thoughts and photos, like some sort of archeological dig of their souls.
The Internet’s default — immediate, impulsive, judgmental critiques — must change. We all have a responsibility to cut one another a little more slack. We need a new Internet Code of Conduct. Something that looks like this: I agree to treat people kindly and to give them the benefit of the doubt. And most of all, I agree to remember the oldest of the old rules: to treat one another as we would wish to be treated. In other words: Judge not, lest ye be judged.
We must learn compassion and forgiveness, for if we aren’t allowed to make mistakes as a culture, we can never learn from them. And if we have to cover up all our imperfections, other people won’t learn from us!
Until last week, New York writer Julia Allison “Lifecasted” at julia.nonsociety.com