A response to Rachel Held Evans’ piece: You Don’t Hate Me. You Hate My Brand.
No, people aren’t reducible to a brand. But to complain that people are judging you by your creative output is arrogant and naive. Don’t want people to criticize your theology? Don’t publicly take theological stands. Don’t want to deal with “2.5 gazillion responses on the internet?” Don’t write for CNN. Don’t want to be judged by your writing? Don’t write.
No one’s making you blog. No one’s making you write. No one’s making you establish a brand. You’re doing that to yourself. You may think that critiques from others are unfair, you may think they’re un-Christlike, you may think they devalue you as a person. But, coming from a white middle class American, such complaints fall woefully flat.
A quick scan of the headlines shows that 60 protesters in Egypt were killed today, Somolia’s in the middle of a severe polio outbreak, 17 people died in a ferry collision in the Philippines, 22 people were killed in a bomb blast in Beirut — and you’re worried about your brand? You’re worried that people don’t know the “real” you? What terrible First World problems we must endure!
The appropriate response to the tension between being a privileged American Christian and the desperate plight of others in the world isn’t guilt, it’s humility. The appropriate response to the success of your blog, books and lectures isn’t to complain about how “your life gets distilled into these little pixels,” it’s humility. A public expression of angst regarding one’s personal brand is anything but humble — it’s self-centered and self-serving. To put it bluntly, complaining about the existential problems of one’s success is obnoxious.
We all have images. We’re all perceived by others in a myriad of ways — that’s life. But if you’re going to create, you need to learn to endure and ignore and even accept the boxes people put you in. Creating means exposing yourself, it means willingly subjecting part of who you are to critical appraisal by others — including those who don’t know anything about you. The fact that our creative expressions don’t fully represent who we are isn’t a weakness or shortcoming, it’s simply part of the process that we must learn to work with rather than rebel against.
No Rachel, I don’t hate you. No Rachel, I don’t hate your brand. What I dislike is the fact that you’re complaining about your success.