In the past two months, I have probably matched the combined time I have spent learning about and updating my "web presence" with the amount I have spent on theatre-related activities. It is a bizarrely exciting aspect of networking these days that we needs must have virtual selves as well as actual. In some ways, it's always been this way. Headshots. Business cards. Advertising. It's just that now there's this whole alternate universe, the interwebz, that we ignore at our own risk.
It's the risk that broke me down, made me submit to said interwebz at last. Because frankly, I am not excited by the custom websites, and can't help but be aware that the interwebz market is even more flooded than the acting profession, so the chances of reaching a broad audience are slim-to-none. Ah, but suppose someone wants to find you...and can't? Great, say I. I already have a cell phone surgically grafted to my hand and an email account that gets a hundred offers daily for erection-enhancing lubricants. Let them not find me! I'll be over here behind this tree whistling Django Reinhardt tunes.
Then I remind myself that I'm an actor.
So, here's my progress on the whole webby-ness front:
- ma' website.
- ma' 'blog.
- ma' MySpace space.
- ma' Friendster locale.
- ma' Onion classifieds account.
- various theatres deigning to mention my involvement (No, Google, I did not mean "'Jeff Mills' theatre". You bastards.)
Non, monsieur. Excusez-moi, mais vous avez tort.Look, I don't know who this "Jeff Wills" guy is, but he's really pissing me off. Go ride a bike, Jeff Wills! And you, YOU! Whatsyername? Jeff Wills, is it? That's just irresponsible, what you're doing. Besides, don't you have some table to bus, bitch! Your kung fu is no match for mine. Oh! Oh, excuse me, I didn't see you th . . . what are you doing to my leg? My alignment is NOT "all messed up!" Get away from me, Jeff Wills!
Actually, my point is defeated (once again!) by my own link-searching, which revealed that I have rocketed to the #5 slot on Google when you enter "Jeff Wills". I have no idea how that happened, but gift horses, etc. For years now I have struggled to find myself (pun intended) on these widewebberneties search engines, only to have to scroll through pages and pages of other JeffWillseses, the "VARNA cyclist" being the real popular fellow. (He's been working on his presence since 1995.) Somewhere around page 5 or 6, I would find actual mention of me, usually as the director of my friend Jade's second run of ICONS, Part I. Which is great, and all, if you're looking to hire a director with one professional credit to his name.
I shall apply defribulation to my point, however (CLEAR!), and see if it can't go on to lead a relatively healthy, normal life. In the struggle to be known, to have the opportunities come to me more than I have to go after them, there's a lot of one's soul to be lost if one is not careful. I see myself through the filters of these sites, and there's very little recognition there for me. Perhaps that's as it should be. They are, to me, mostly marketing tools. The website is pretty (Yes you are, you're pretty!) but essentially a best-face-forward kind of tool; a first impression of a careerist. The Onion ad was a lark, and represents me as I am when I'm sort of most casual about things. Friendster I signed up for so long ago (like, whole year or so) I'm not sure who that is at this point. The theatres and their websites are bare mentions of me as someone who acts and travels a bit. And MySpace...well. I can't STAND MySpace. MySpace is my generation gap from the youths--right there. When I finally got that page semi-glossed, friend Nat wrote to me to say (albeit in jest), "You are real!" MySpace makes me feel--on a visceral level--like an octogenarian in a discotech.
But this 'blog, at least, is fairly unfiltered and substantial. At times, it's frightening to think that I'm putting myself out to public access daily. (All three of you readers, this is a bond of trust.) One of the most anxious thoughts I have has to do with someone I knew years ago, anyone I've lost touch with, reminding me of who I used to be. Why should that be so terrible? I don't know. Maybe I've invested too much into this career that seems to require a polished veneer. Maybe I'm still not successful enough to be satisfied. Or maybe I really am, when it all comes down to it, an introvert.
Hey: It's what the MySpace personality profile tells me.