Up to now, "Julia Allison," as a name, didn't mean much to me; I'd seen it bandied about on Gawker, usually unfavorably. In fact, she has her own tag at Gawker, wherein I found snide observations like this:

All that sucking up to Chris Anderson and "branding" herself as a sort-of techie has finally paid off! New York dating columnist Julia Allison famous for being famous for no reason on the Internet will grace the August cover of Wired. (She must have timed her baffling new website Non Society in order to coincide with the cover.)

Perhaps she did. I wouldn't know. I generally skipped over the Julia stuff during my perfunctory biweekly scans of Gawker; the relevance of a New York-based [insert term as explicit as, but kinder than, "attention whore," if one exists] is presumably fairly low on the global scale. The actual Wired article, by Jason Tanz, eventually showed up on my doorstep, complete with the obligatory seriously-overprocessed cover photo, and it reveals that one of Allison's goals was to "become a cult figure."

Being fiftysomething and presumably somewhat detached from the Wired world, I might have written her off as Yet Another Net Narcissist, strutting and fretting her quarter-hour Shakespeare yields to Warhol on the stage. I didn't. And I don't think it's because of the aforementioned cover photo, which in spite of heavy Photoshop filtration reveals a decently pretty young woman with at least B-plus, maybe A-minus legs; I think it's because at some level I prefer to keep buried, I have some vestigial urge to seek the limelight myself.

Evidently I've raised ambivalence to a moderate, if not high, art. I debuted in the BBS world in the middle 1980s, when it was relatively easy to carve out a name for oneself; but the name I chose was one I was careful (mostly) to dissociate from myself. After that, I took a position as a FidoNet moderator; but it was in a conference where high moderator visibility was not to be encouraged. In 1996 I put up this very Web site and the very first Vent; but while I signed my name all over the place, it's a name sufficiently common to constitute hiding in plain sight.

So I can't really resent Julia or her however-fleeting fame. And besides, she seems to have some sense of proper self-mockery. From that Wired piece:

After Radar named her the third-most-hated person on the Internet she placed just above the marine seen on YouTube tossing a puppy off a cliff her knowing response won over even the most hardened Gawker commenter. ("I want to thank my agent, who has been with me since I was just mildly annoying," she wrote. "Of course I want to thank my self-promotional narcissism and my incessant desire for infamy at any costs. Thank you so, so much.")

I couldn't have said it better myself. Let's hope I don't get the opportunity to try.

The Vent

  23 July 2008

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 Copyright © 2008 by Charles G. Hill