Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Dilemma

Today, I got an interesting e-mail in regard to It said:

"great site!! did ya ever think about changing something ever so slightly just to see if anyone really checks to see if you really dont change anything?"

Setting aside this person's broken cap key, they have a valid point. I don't update too much these days. Just seem to be into other things at the moment.

I started this site about nine years ago. That's nearly a decade-long hobby. At it's peak, the site got a million unique visitors a month. There are corporations that would kill for that kind of traffic, especially when it comes not from paid ads, but from word of mouth, or viral content.

But getting that traffic, and keeping it, consumed my life. I loved it, but after nine years, I'm not sure I'm all that into it any more.

Which leads to an even greater dilemma, if one would call it that. Namely, I'm not entirely sure how I define myself at the moment. For a long time, I was the actor guy. Then, I was the writer guy. And the Writers Guild guy. After that, I was always the Dribbleglass guy. Now, I'm more of the photography guy. I guess.

I don't act much anymore. I don't write much. So, I guess I'm not that anymore. Am I photographer? I enjoy it, but I'm not sure that's how I define myself. I kind of feel like anyone can be a photographer, but not everyone can write like I write, or do a site like, so I'm reluctant to set those things aside.

This dilemma extends to this blog, as you may have noticed. I write about personal things, sometimes, but mostly I post images. But it's not a photography blog, per se. I don't know what it is, I guess because I'm not sure what I am at the moment.

Maybe we don't have to define ourselves along strict lines. I'm a guy who likes photography, and I have a humor site I don't update much. I'll soon be undertaking a project to provide portraits to the homeless, as well as abused women and children. I volunteer with a children's literacy group.

Oh, gawd. Maybe the most surprising thing has happened. I've accidentally become complex. I'll have to do something about that.

So, how do you define yourself? By your job? By your hobbies? By being a parent? Or not? Do you feel the need to define yourself "in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions"? (Bonus points if you know where that's from.)

When people think of you, what's the first thing they think of? "He's the comedian"? "She's the artist"? "He's the political one"? "She's the computer whiz"?

They say that life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself. What you have you created?


Jonderson said...

This is a very troubling aspect of modern society. We have "evolved" to a point where we describe who we are exclusively in terms of what we do, or what our social roles are.

This is highly problematic, because it prevents any social value from being bestowed upon the individual person apart from what their job and social role is. If this is how you define people, then there is no room for ascribing any value to who the individual is as a person. This is a very socially dangerous habit, particularly as more and more creative, intelligent, kind, and generous people find themselves out of work.

I am always very careful to not describe myself (or others) in these terms, or if I do it is only as part of a bigger decription of who the person is.

This may not give you an answer, but now at least you know that you were asking the wrong question.

Jonderson said...

BTW, to answer your other question, the first thing many people think of when they think of me is "abrasive ass". Primarily because I habitually challenge the way most people think. I challenge things that most people take for granted and base their lives on. That obviously tends to make people uncomfortable. Comedians do that too, but they do it in such a way as to make it enjoyable and entertaining. I am no comedian. Comedy requires finesse, which is something I have no real gift for.

But even that is still defining who I am purely in terms of what I do. It still is a very incomplete picture.

Scott Roeben said...

It's interesting that the question one most often gets when meeting someone new is, "What do you do?" That kind of implies "What's your job?" Which, as you said, is a little weird, because I don't think most people define themselves by what they do for a paycheck. Or maybe we've evolved into that being how we define ourselves. The other stuff is a little hard to summarize. And I'm not even sure my personal pursuits sum me up very well. I guess it's more accurate to say, "What are you up to?" than "What do you do?"