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Reinventing yourself on the Internet

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 24, 2015

Julia Nunes is a musician who 1) first developed a following for her music on YouTube, and 2) is putting out her latest album, which drops tomorrow. This summer, Nunes took down a bunch of the videos that started her on this path and explained why.

I took down a bunch of videos bc I don’t want what I’m doing now to be lost amongst what I’ve done for the past 8 years. I don’t want the best thing I’ve ever done to be 10% of what you can find if you’re looking. I want anyone who is just finding me now to see who I really am. Later, they can dig deep into the internet and find my nose ring but until then I wanna greet the world as I am now.

Nunes had changed and she wanted her online persona to reflect the shift.

There will always be resistance to change and the first roadblock is usually yourself. I think I was putting myself in a box there for a little bit, too beholden to the image I started with.

One of my favorite posts, which I think about often, is this one about social media and self-reinvention. In it, I quote a post1 from Scott Schuman’s The Sartorialist about a woman named Kara who significantly remade her image after moving to NYC.

Actually the line that I think was the most telling but that she said like a throw-away qualifier was “I didn’t know anyone in New York when I moved here…”

I think that is such a huge factor. To move to a city where you are not afraid to try something new because all the people that labeled who THEY think you are (parents, childhood friends) are not their to say “that’s not you” or “you’ve changed”. Well, maybe that person didn’t change but finally became who they really are. I totally relate to this as a fellow Midwesterner even though my changes were not as quick or as dramatic.

I bet if you ask most people what keeps them from being who they really want to be (at least stylistically or maybe even more), the answer would not be money but the fear of peer pressure — fear of embarrassing themselves in front of a group of people that they might not actually even like anyway.

Taking down those videos is Nunes’ way of trying for a fresh online start. Makes me think about whether having more than 17 years of archives on kottke.org still hanging around is such a good idea.

  1. Somewhat fittingly, that post now appears to be missing from Schuman’s site. Perhaps he (or Kara) needed to do a little online self-reinvention. Luckily, the Wayback Machine has us covered.