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Branding, Clickbait, or a Sincere Question?
I’m thinking there will be three reasons people would click on this article. Some were sent here by an internet search (seeking advice about marking up their face); others know I just lost my mom and decided to check in (and maybe based on the title, think I’m going off the deep end); the rest are possibly seeking writing advice and are wondering what I’m talking about.
For all three groups of people, I have something to say – and I’m going to try to say it in less than an hour, in keeping with my determination to get back to writing every day. Believe it or not, that resolution is what brought face tattoos back to mind.
Stick with me, and hopefully we will all be helped.
Should I Get a Face Tattoo?
First off: Shayne Smith, who has several face tattoos, says that if you are wondering if you should do likewise, his advice is, “Probably not” – unless you don’t mind scaring elderly people, or being unemployed.
Okay, from here, I’m having writer’s block. Note to the writers reading this: I’d like to segway into why Shayne Smith’s advice helped me get a better writing plan; but all the advice about how Google directs internet searches and warnings about “bounce rates” are telling me I shouldn’t get off-topic at this point in my post…
I’m going to go ahead and say that whether you want a face tattoo, or if you are just wondering why in the world I’m talking about this, there is still a reason to read on, because basically, I want to talk story telling, and if you are on this page trying to determine whether or not to permanently mark your face, I bet you have quite a story.
Why You Will Regret a Face Tattoo
How many of us have looked through photo albums from twenty to thirty years ago and laughed out loud at the people posing, wearing what they thought was cool and looking absolutely ridiculous?
Girls with feathered hair – or worse yet, the Aqua Net induced waterfall of bangs that were all the rage in the early nineties.
I was about to say something about long tube socks hiked high on guys in super short shorts; but I know the socks are coming into style again, and I’ve cringed seeing guys basically in capris lately – the creek is rising, and I’m pretty sure the pants will go up with the tide.
Anyway, trends change. Clothes and haircuts can be modified. Tattoos can’t.
Why You Shouldn’t Get a Face Tattoo
Every time you look in the mirror, you will see it. There isn’t really a way to backtrack from such a permanent fashion statement.
I heard about a woman who had a Grateful Dead Bear tattooed to her mid-drift in her twenties. Pregnancy made that bear fill out like it was ready to hibernate for half a century. When her stomach shrunk after giving birth, the tattoo was all wonky and looked more like a melted gummy bear.
As we age, our faces change, and our skin begins to sag. A face tattoo now could look like something totally different later. I’m imagining some eighty year old guy all tattooed up, and then having a stroke…
Okay, I’m rambling a bit; but I just wanted to say, please don’t get a face tattoo.
If there is something you want to say, or make known, and that’s why you want a face tattoo, I think there is a better way to let the rest of the world know.
We All Have a Story and a Choice of How We Will Share It
Each one of us is living out a real life story. How we live and tell it will be determined by how we present ourselves to other people.
Today, branding is considered a marketing term; but over the centuries branding was done through marking a person with permanent ink.
Branding isn’t new to modern society. It tends to help us, or hinder us, by putting us into certain categories.
Our choices in clothes, language, location, friend circles, etc… determine a lot about how we will be labeled. For the most part, none of these things are completely permanent; but ink applied by a tattoo artist is.
In some ways, social media is setting our choices in stone as well. If I take a picture and pass it onto a friend, it can be sent around the world in rapid fire. That’s why being aware of the ramifications is so important. We should all ask, “Am I going to someday regret hitting send?”
By getting a face tattoo, a person is pretty much boxing themself into a certain category for the rest of their life and limiting a lot of possibilities.
If someone hopes to be a writer, it’s important to truly think through things like staying on topic, marketing, and branding, because we can quickly find ourselves boxed in or out by the things we say.
I’m one to talk – face tattoos is not my niche by any means,
and here I’ve been blabbing away about them – please be patient…
Steady steps in a predetermined direction can help a person hone in on their skills and hold an audience’s interest.
Anyone interested in being a writer should take a long hard look at how they want to be labeled.
People Judge a Book By the Cover – and All the Pages in Between
Whether it’s face tattoos, or how we choose to present ourselves on social media, people will make a lot of assumptions at a glance.
I have avoided things like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all the rest for a long time. In a lot of ways, those forums are the reasons I’ve found an excuse not to write. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in saying phrases like “she’s not my friend” on Facebook, or “I’m following” so and so through Twitter. I didn’t like talking in those terms.
I’d never heard the term “Karen” ten years ago, when I was testing the waters of public writing, by guest posting on someone else’s blog; but I sure experienced what we would now call “Karens” in the comments section. Talking about dental floss was controversial. I couldn’t stand it.
Because of that, I still cringe at the thought of using social media as a tool. I would much rather hole up in some faraway cabin and write; then send my manuscripts off to a publisher (and let some company deal with the public); rather than deal with direct public criticism; but I don’t know if that’s really an option anymore. And I do want to be a writer.
Deciding to Delve into Social Media
Because I want to be a writer, I decided to go ahead and sign up for several social media accounts under the name of my business, Jody Susan Writes. I don’t know that I will actually use those pages; but I thought it would be wise to at least get my brand name set, in case I need to rise to the occasion.
At the bottom of this blog, you can find my social media accounts set into the footer. I’m still uncertain about actually posting and becoming involved.
I’ve been going through a program called Project 24, which is a twenty-four month program, trying to learn the ins and outs of setting up a website, so that I can be more proactive about sharing the manuscripts sitting on my hard drive.
There have been some stories that I have felt like I just had to write – they have set a restlessness in me, to where I couldn’t be at peace unless I took time to type them.
I’ve done that; but now I’m realizing those stories are also meant to be told rather than just stored on my computer.
Social Media and Face Tattoos Both Tell a Story
Whether we have an unfinished manuscript, or want a face tattoo, we all have a story worth telling.
I remember being in a gift shop once – I think I was near the Gila Wilderness, or somewhere out west, when a book cover stopped me in my steps. The front photo was a black and white portrait of a beautiful woman from the eighteen hundreds.
I haven’t read the book; but I can still remember the shock I felt at reading the title, “The Girl with the Blue Tattoo”.
Seeing that refined face, bearded by ink, was a reminder that we don’t always get to determine our own story.
I do not believe Olive Oatman would have ever chosen to have a face tattoo of her own volition. Someone else marked her for life.
At the time, I’d never heard of a person being tagged as property by a tattoo. It has happened throughout time.
Even today, it’s easy to forget that face tattoos are not always put there by free choice. So often, they can be evidence of modern day slavery – sometimes to a person or entity, or just as pernicious, to a spiritual form of bondage.
My guess would be that Olive Oatman experienced some forms of embarrassment over the tattoo she received while in captivity. I have heard that she rarely appeared in public without a veil. All that sense of shame, and yet she still managed to stand and have her image made for the public…
She had a story, and she allowed it to be heard.
What We are Ashamed of is Often the Story We Need to Tell
As humans, we often feel shame, and yet, the stories that touch our hearts most easily are the ones where someone is willing to take a risk by being real and sharing their embarrassment and struggles.
Too much information can be a real thing; but there is a tender balance between T.M.I. and being open about the common battles involved in each of us. There’s a lot of talk lately about computer generated stories; but I don’t see how apps like ChatGPT can pull together tales of redemption that touch our hearts like a real life account of triumph from defeat.
Will A.I. Be Able to Put Writers Out of Work?
Artificial Intelligence is a long way from being able to express what a real person can put into words. Apps like ChatGPT will fall short every time they try to tell a story. At this point, there is no way for a computer to show true expressions of the human experience.
Technologically generated stories will lack what touches our hearts most.
AI Stories Vs Real Story Tellers
- Artificial Intelligence lacks irony
- Computer Generated texts sound wooden
- Human writers can better express humor
- A real person is able to show empathy, when a computer program can’t
- People identify with shame found in other people’s stories
- Reading AI is like having a robocall instead of talking to a real person
- AI is overly polite, and this frustrates people, making the interaction feel fake and exhausting
- The ark of the story is stiff when told by a pre-trained computer
- The phrase “You can’t make this stuff up” will be missing – people love real life stories no one would dare come up with
- Truth is Stranger than Fiction – unless A.I. completely plagiarizes people’s work, it will fall short
- There is a natural longing to find redemption in the heart of a story that AI doesn’t do a good job of generating
- Quality always wins over quantity when it comes to entertainment
Make Writing Your Real Job
I say quality wins over quantity when it comes to writing; but here I sit, determined to churn out content by making myself type six days a week. Wouldn’t it be better to just wait until I feel inspired, or until I have nothing else going on?
I can’t be a writer, if I barely take the time to write, and fear of failure, or my efforts coming to nothing is usually what stops me from sitting down and taking the time to work.
I type a lot in my head; but tense up when it comes to facing my keyboard.
Ironically, a guy with face tattoos, who jokes about how he can’t get a job, is the one who inspired me to get back on track. I was flipping through my very neglected planner the other night, flying from Fort Wayne back to St. Louis to help my dad get ready to sell his house, when I came across something I’d written well over a year ago.
In notes from a podcast, I’d scribbled how Shayne Smith determined that he had to treat comedy like a real job to gain any kind of traction. He had time on his hands, since nobody seemed to want to hire a guy with tattoos on his face, hands, and throat; but he also had opportunities to get distracted by other things. He determined to put in the hours and stick to a set course.
I can’t find the podcast I heard when he was talking about his work ethic; but remember how funny it was to hear him say now he does motivational speaking at corporate events – which is pretty ironic, since those companies would probably never hire him, because of how he looks.
I can find every excuse to not work on my writing. Usually, I wait to make sure nobody else needs me for anything before I’ll sit down and type. This can seem unselfish; but in a lot of ways it can be a polite form of procrastination.
When I’m not writing, I’m often writing in my head, feeling frustrated as ideas build up. Making myself disciplined to sit and type for at least one hour a day can act as a kind of release valve to keep that pressure at bay. Following a prescribed time limit can also keep me on topic and keep me from rambling.
Speaking of which, I’ve probably already said enough for one day…
Time Management and Tattoos
So, if you started out reading this article, because you were wondering if you should get a face tattoo, I’d encourage you to skip going to the permanent ink parlor, and instead sit down with a pen and notebook and write out your story. I think you will find that therapeutic.
If you’re here because you were my mom’s friend, and kept reading, feeling responsible to keep me from making a dreadful mistake, thinking, “What does she mean, ‘Should I get a face tattoo?’,” please put your heart at rest – I’m not going to get a tattoo of any kind.
No matter who you are, you have a story, too.
Take the time to write it down.
And if you’re here, looking for help with your writing, do your best not to get distracted. If you want to be a writer, I hope you will take the time to set a regular schedule. Whether you’re tempted to scroll mindlessly on other people’s social media, or stroll over to a tattoo parlor, don’t.
Finish reading this sentence, and then start typing your own story.
Face the task of writing head on.
It’s time to make your mark.
Here’s a link to Shayne Smith’s Dry Bar Comedy act. It’s a Double Feature, and displays how his storytelling skills have improved with practice, and how his real life struggles endear him to his listeners.
As far as I know, he’s the funniest guy on the face of the earth that has face tattoos.
Disclaimer: I’ve only heard his Dry Bar Comedy act, which is considered “clean” – I don’t know what he’s like at other venues, so I’m only recommending his Dry Bar Special.
*Lest I give the false idea that my life ever goes perfectly according to my plans, please feel free to peruse this post: