I Feel Like a Whole Red Square of People is in My Head and Other Personal Branding Problems

When I started this blog two-some years ago, personal branding was all the rage, and everyone was all like, you have to blog under your own name so your ideas get heard and you build yourself up.  What everyone didn’t tell me is that once you blog under your own name, you have to self-censor to the point where all your content becomes bland and boring, especially if you’re employed and have family. Maybe this is why most personal branding and social media blogs are terrible and I have no idea how those people are taken seriously and make money.

At first, I didn’t self-censor, and  see how edgy I was back in the day?  I wrote about economics. And Yiddish.  And all sorts of non-Boykis household related things.  Just pretty much whatever I felt like without any fear of repercussion.  But then, somewhere along the way, I gained readers and I stupidly decided to publish my blog feed to my Facebook, which meant that now all my real-life friends know about it.  Also, somehow their friends know, my family, etc.

So whereas before my blog post thought process went something like this,

“Hm.  I think I’ll write a post making fun of Polish juice.   As I write, I have an image of an audience in my head.  For most writers, they try to write to a generalization and I do as well, but I can’t help but picture my audience reading it:


I’ll show Mr. B my post to see if he thinks it’s funny and Nice! Post done. ”

But now, since I’m very aware of my audience, I feel like I’m writing to this:

 which I know is stupid because I only get, like, 60 blog hits every day, but somehow everyone always brings it up at in-life social gatherings.  So I’ll start brainstorming a post, and the process will go something like,

“Why don’t I write about my job and my career…ohhhhh terrible idea.  Well, why don’t I write about a family member that irritates meohhhhhnooooo. Well, why don’t I write about this restaurant we went to ohhhmannn they might be checking their Google Alerts.  Well, why not something that Russians do that annoys me. Nooooo because someone that’s Russian and reading might get offended.  I might as well be writing about abortion and prostitutes.  If I swear in my post, will that offend my family?  If I don’t swear, will it be edgy enough for the Internet?  What about The Foreskin Man?  No, too racy and too opinionated.  Wait!  I can write about Polish juice!  But ohhhh what if Polish people read my blog.  WHAT IF JUICES READ MY BLOG AND ARE OFFENDED?  OHMYGOD CRIPPLING INDECISION.”

So then you get posts like this. Which, I mean, is cute in its own way, but it’s boring as hell. No conflict. No new ideas.  Humor is not at the level it should be.  Etc.  The post I was considering writing in its place was about Bangladesh, but that story is now three weeks old and if some upset mommyblogger sees it and starts a comment war, I honestly don’t want to get involved.

So, how can I break out of

and remember that I’m only writing for




Maybe I can write anonymously.

Look for my new anonymous blog, right at this address.





15 thoughts on “I Feel Like a Whole Red Square of People is in My Head and Other Personal Branding Problems

  1. I always thought personal branding was another scam by the despised (by me) social media experts. No way I am advertising my real name on the blog although it’s not extremely hard to figure it out for a determined person.
    Offending Russian, Polish and other blog readers is a non-issue, while offending mommy-bloggers is always a mitzvah.

      1. I used to, but I stopped mostly for the lack of inspiration. One post even lost me a girlfriend I still like to have a firewall between the blog and the rest, you never know what human resources would interpret as controversial.

  2. I don’t have a solution either though it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently. I do have anonymous blogs/platforms where I could write but I am hesitant to do so because I literally have no audience- it would just be like writing in my diary. I do love having an audience though as that’s the entire point of blogging for me. So there’s a dilemma. I guess you should be willing to write even if it makes you uncomfortable and try to experiment with new things. It’s certainly not easy but I try to work up the courage to post more personal things because I think people can really relate. It’s a constant challenge and struggle but I think it’s worth it for me in the long run. I have learned a lot from blogging and from my comments and it really has benefited me!

  3. You just gave me an idea for a post. Look forward to a response post, please.

    A response post with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not even sure yet. But they’ll be in there.

    But I will say this: isn’t that what’s great about the internets? you can create entire personages out of thin air, sort of like the brilliant personal branding case study of the lesbian in Damascus. While messed up, it was still an expertly created personality that was hocked as truth, and people bought as truth. I mean, who knows – maybe vickiboykis.com is really a front for some crazy asian dude with a pet iguana who lives in Ivory Coast in a houseboat who always wears really strange panda bear slippers, but pretends to be a russian jew from Philadelphia?

    BTW – I think I see you in that photograph. You’re the 93rd from the top.

  4. I used to update a Russian-language blog fairly regularly under a nickname derived from my frist name in Russian (so pretty easy to figure out that least my first name). Then I briefly had an anonymous English-language blog. Now I write under my own name once a month for http://www.oychicago.com. I just don’t have the werewithal to sustain a constant blogging enterprise (kudos to you, Vicki, for creating exciting, humorous and thought-provoking content on an almost-daily basis — there’s a reason all of 60 of us a day read you!). In any case, I think considerations for others’ feelings are all very well and good, but the underlying premise of a blog is to get your own thoughts out in the open and hear what other people have to say. You don’t actually mean to offend (unless, of course, you do), but people should realize that argument and opposition are legitimate expressions of thought. You’re creating your own personal space on the web, so I wouldn’t shy away from legitimizing your space by sharing truthfully & as completely as you’re comfortable in terms of privacy. Naturally, some things should remain private (your house number & street, your sex life, etc. ;-), but political opinions, humorous takes on a community’s idiosyncracies, etc. are all fair game.

    1. “people should realize that argument and opposition are legitimate expressions of thought.” People are not as smart as you.

      Also, re: sex life, etc. what do you think of Penelope Trunk? Have you read her? She writes about everything and gets away with it constantly.

      1. If that’s your cup of tea, then by all means, share everything. I’d be hesitant to put every personal detail into cyberspace. As I understand it, PT was an early adopter — she didn’t have an anonymous blog and then suddenly decided to put her name on it. Did you read Belle de Jour (the diary of a London call girl) blog? She wrote it while earning money to pay for her sociology PhD and a couple of years outed herself (after publishing two books and getting a TV series deal before folding the blog).

  5. Facebook is mostly noise. Since I’m anonymous, I can offend as much as my heart desires, which is pretty much the point of my blog. You do have a fun personal blog, and I find a lot of links here that I wouldn’t get on political blogs. So if you enjoy doing it, by all means indulge us. Once you have children. though, especially as they are getting older, you probably want to sensor personal stuff more. You never know what they wouldn’t want out there.

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