Clearly, You're Retarded was the radio show with Adam Avitable and Britt Reints

Mirror, mirror . . .

Recently, I was accused of using my blog to build a shrine to myself.  I initially denied it, but after some thought, I realized that it’s hard to disagree with.  I mean, I’m not interested in this site being an actual shrine to all things Avitable, but it’s a personal blog, an accounting of the life and thoughts of one person.  How can it not be narcissistic?

I blog for three reasons:

  • I like to make people laugh.
  • It’s a good way to find like-minded individuals who become lifelong friends.
  • I believe that I have something valuable to say.

I’ve maintained a personal website of some sort since 1995, and I’ve been using the domain name since 2000.  In the old days, my site was focused around funny stories, caption contests for personal photos, and other random humor.  I had to update it manually in HTML, and then email all of my friends with the link so they’d know to come visit. In those 16 years, I’ve seen a lot of websites come and go.  When blogs became popular, I was thrilled to have an easy way to update and publish content, and the advent of RSS was a huge boon.

It’s been interesting watching how blogging has evolved, as well.  Originally, you blogged because you wanted to talk about something, and that was it.  You interacted because it was a community, and you made friends with people for no reason other than the fact that you liked them.  One of my oldest blogging friends is named Bethie.  She was 16 in 2004 when I started blogging regularly, and now she’s going to be 23 this year.  She has gotten married, had two children, and moved to four different states.  And we’re still friends, all thanks to that initial blogging community.

I see bloggers now who have this constant strive to redefine themselves or their blog as something different.  They focus on monetization and SEO and marketing and branding.  It makes me a bit nostalgic for the old days.  I do understand that many people are able to make a living from blogging, whether it’s writing for others or for themselves.  The downfall that I’ve seen, though, is that you slowly see the personality of the blogger disappear out of a fear of losing advertisers, burning bridges with other popular bloggers, or losing traffic.  One exception to this is Jenny – I think she’s managed to maintain her integrity wholly while exploding in popularity.

Do I enjoy the benefits of having some minor Internet popularity/notoriety?  Sure I do – I think anyone who says that they don’t is lying.  Going to conferences like BlogHer and hearing from people who have read my words and enjoyed them is a rewarding experience – it all goes back to one of the three reasons that I blog in the first place.  I was joking with a friend about being a “celebrity on the Internet” and he said “You’re never going to be a celebrity, and do you know why?  Because you’re too accessible.”  And he’s right.  If you add me as a friend on Facebook, I’ll accept you.  My cell number and address are in my profile.  If you email me, I will reply.  If you call me, I will talk to you.  And even though I’ve had a harder time recently, with work and doing stand-up, I reply to as many comments as I can.  I do think sometimes that if I was less accessible, I might actually become more popular (as strange as that sounds), but I just can’t do it.  I’d rather interact with people than ignore them in an effort to increase my traffic and improve my branding. has no ads, but that’s not because I don’t like money.  I love money, and I would love to make a lot more of it.  But I know that the amount of money I would make with ads compared to the compromises I’d have to make with my content wouldn’t be worth it.  If I could ever find an advertiser or sponsor who would let me be me, without restrictions or caveats, I would consider it, but since I don’t send out pitch letters and I don’t market myself to anyone, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

I don’t need my blog to be more than what it is.  It’s a place for me to write humor, make people laugh, sometimes make people think, make new friends and visit with old ones.  It has grown and matured organically over the years as I’ve gotten more comfortable with sharing my personal life and letting my guard down, but I don’t have a goal or a plan with my blog.  It’s my space on the web, and it is narcissistic, reflective, and all about me, and you know what?  I’m perfectly okay with that.

Tonight (Wednesday) at 9 PM EST, join me for a new episode of CYR! I’m going to talk about Japan, Godzilla, hummus, take questions from the chatroom, and test out some more comedy!

As always, you can download the Talkshoe Pro client to listen in live and join us in the chatroom. You can even call in and tell me how shitty awesome I am!

Tonight (Wednesday) at 9 PM EST – don’t miss it!

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71 Replies to “Mirror, mirror . . .”

  1. kateanon

    “it’s a personal blog, an accounting of the life and thoughts of one person. How can it not be narcissistic?” I agree, but you do it well. Whether reviewing a product, standing on your soapbox or making us laugh, you stay true to yourself and what you want to say. Many can’t do that. You’re consistent with giving us entertainment and your voice and you’ve grown an audience that is connected to you. That’s a remarkable thing, and something many internet celebrities couldn’t manage.

  2. The Demigod

    You’re the one trusted bloggy voice out there. I love stopping by and laughing along or crying along or cringing along with you. We may not necessarily agree on a few things, but I have a profound respect for the honor code you write by – that indelible sense that you’re a blogger of integrity.

    And it helps that I think you be a mighty fine man. LOL

  3. Janelle

    And that is why I still enjoy your blog after all these years. Its real and I know I won’t read a post only to find out it’s a sales pitch… I dont mind blogs/posts that start off telling me that it’s a sponsored post… But anything short of that is off putting for me. I read blogs to get to know someone, no other reason. I really want to know what is going on in the world of all the people who live in my computer. I think it’s harder to find personal blogs these days because everyone is wanting to make money- which is totally ok. But like you, I kinda miss the good old days when personal blogs outnumbered money making blogs. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough? And just a sidenote, I miss blogrolls… That is how I used to find all kinds of blogs and now they seem to be disappearing. Again, maybe I’m just not looking enough?

    • Avitable

      @Janelle, I don’t miss blogrolls – I think that was a way for people to get hurt by being excluded, when sometimes it was just too hard to keep up. I got rid of my blogroll years ago and it was a huge weight off my shoulders.

  4. Robin

    I agree with you. We both started blogging before it became the “in” thing to do and before it became “commercial.” It will be interesting to see where the blogging phenomenon goes in the next 3-5 years.

  5. bo

    Nothing saddens me more than once-great blogs that get watered-down in the service of monetization. I feel sad for the blogger, and cheated as a friend because money became more important to that person that relationships. But then again I don’t value money the way that you or others do. (And that’s a judgement-free statement.)

    Yes it’s been interesting to watch blogging as a form change, but it’s also interesting to see a blog change. Yours has evolved (or some might say devolved) over the years and none more so than post-divorce. You used to talk about external things with a bit more frequency and heart. Now you try to make us laugh (and succeed more often than not I think) and occasionally drop a post of heavy internal stuff on us. Both are fine. Both are what you do. Sometimes I miss the Avitable (the blog) of two or three years ago, but I still tune in every single day.

    But I would count you as a blogger who’s maintained his integrity. You’ve always kept to your primary interest: you. And when you’re not talking about you, you keep to your secondary interest: humor. And if nothing else, you keep to your tertiary interest: your balls. If that’s not integrity, I’m not sure I know what is.

      • bo

        @Avitable, I’m not sure which part you mean: the post-divorce thing or the integrity. I’ll assume you mean the post-divorce thing and risk embarrassing myself.

        I’ve always found you a rather humorous blogger, and still do. But there’s a difference these days and the best way I can explain it is to say that your shield is showing.

        You use humor in many different ways. Sometimes you’re trying to connect with people, other times you’re being divisive. Other times you’re pulling your Howard Stern routine and still other times it’s just another dimension of your post.

        However, and this isn’t a fault, you’ve never been one to simply be silly. I think you view ridiculousness as a sign of either weakness or stupidity. I’m guessing the latter. Yet lately you’ve resorted to silliness. Your dead-celebrity interviews are an example. Check out the older versions v. the newer versions. The newer ones tend towards the illogical, the ridiculous. Your newfound proclivity for painted toenails is more of a behavioral example.

        What this says to me is that right now you need humor to be your shield. You need it to help you get through a day, because you’re engaging in behaviors that you didn’t do before and that you don’t understand. Your humor has followed the same trend, developing in a way that’s new and that I’m not sure you understand the impetus for.

        What I mean to say is that I feel these days you need to be funny (and you are), whereas before you were just funny. And I’m not sure you understand that either.

        That’s how your blog reads (to me) these days. I still laugh and I still read. But some days I worry through that laughing. But keep in mind that this is my impression, garnered through content mediated by you through your blog. I don’t know your personal life; I only know what you post here. So my statements here perhaps apply more to the Adam-persona on the blog than Adam-the-person.

  6. Mindy

    I have enjoyed reading your blog for over five years now. I know that I rarely comment but I will try to do so more in the future. You are a man with a big heart and the personality to match and I thank you for sharing it with me and everyone else.

  7. muskrat

    Other than your enormous levels of self-righteousness, I like your blog, what you do with it, and how you interact with those who have found you this way. Especially when you come to Atlanta and pay for dinner!

    I actually stuck the BlogHer ad tower on my site so that I could write off trips to BlogHer and tell the IRS, “But this is a money making venture–see the ads?” Then, when I became self-employed like you, I didn’t need that any more, since I advertise online for my “civilian” job. But, it’s easier to just leave the thing on there. I’ve never had anyone tell me they don’t like my content…if that were to occur, I’d take down the ad bar.

    As an aside, everyone knows that if you really wanted more money, you’d go into gay porn anyway.

    • Avitable

      @muskrat, me? Self-righteous? Never! I mean, I’m always right, but that’s totally different.

      BlogHer ads would never work here – I know of several instances where they asked people to remove their content or remove the ads from a particular post for a purely subjective reason.

  8. Faiqa

    Yes, exactly. And people read your blog because you provide value, so whether or not this is a shrine to you… people find it valuable. For some crazy reason… I just read it so you won’t give me a hard time for being a crappy friend.

  9. SisterMerryHellish

    Funny, I do find myself hesitating every now and then when writing a post, which is weird because my blog is baby fresh, less than a year old, and unless you find discussing dead fraggles morally reprehensible, it’s so not controversial.

    Then I remember one of the reasons I have the blog; so I can be myself there more than almost anywhere else.

  10. LAB

    Aren’t all bloggers narcissistic? I sure as hell am (read me! love me!)! I write what I know, and what I know is my life.

    I agree about the ads. My blog is practically my diary and there’s no room in it for content other than mine.

  11. Julie {Angry Julie Monday}

    You make me laugh and that is a rare commodity. Is it rare to see someone whom is so genuine. You are who you are….and you put it out just like that. You don’t cater to anyone, and don’t change just to go along with what people think or say…so ya people might think you are a narcissist, but really it is confidence.

  12. Sybil Law

    Yep- I’ve seen some bloggers change personalities (seemingly) – all in the interest of popularity, or how they can make money. It turns me off completely. Anything that once seemed maybe authentic, then just seems desperate. What’s really strange is meeting bloggers in person, and finding them completely different than their blog persona – and YOU were more a pleasant surprise the first time I met you (as opposed to some of the let downs and downright assholes).

    Oh, and – Once a fucker, always a fucker.

  13. Issa

    I blog because I love it. Plain and simple. Doesn’t make me any money. I have been told I’m too honest, too depressing and online way too much to ever be popular. That’s okay. If I did this to be popular, I’d of stopped lonnnnnng ago.

    More and more, I see people who I used to adore go the route of only talking about things when it’s the DRAMAZ of the week and the crap they are getting for free. I have started deleting them from my reader. If I wanted to know about products I don’t want, I’d watch commercials.

    I read here because you are real. You are funny and entertaining and real. Even at times when you (in my opinion) push it a bit too far and end up coming off a bit jerky, you are still funny and real.

  14. TJ

    I have trouble wrapping my mind around the “less accessible = more fame” thing, mostly because I’ve always thought of it as kind of being engineered the other way around.

    I’ve been blogging for I guess coming up on 13 years now, and the same kind of phenomenon existed way back before Twitter and Facebook and all of that, where those who viewed themselves to be among the “popular” set of bloggers or who wanted to be, or at least SOME of those people, PURPOSELY made themselves seem less accessible or much more busy than they actually were. Talking about how MUCH email you received and how you couldn’t POSSIBLY answer it as was almost kind of faddish. It has become known, over time, that you can’t always expect a response from popular or A-list bloggers simply because there are so many demands for their time, but even though it wasn’t always this way, people kind of acted like it always was.

    Like you know as well as I do that there ARE people who MAKE SURE that their “following” is a small fraction of their “followers” on Twitter, in order to preserve the notion of being inaccessible, because if you are less accessible, you MUST be popular.

    Not that inaccessibility doesn’t stem from popularity or fame, but since the dawn of… Internet… people have been almost faking/creating that inaccessibility. Back in the tumbleweed-wilds of 2003, f you had time to respond to comments or answer email, you couldn’t POSSIBLY be that great of a blogger, because if you were, you’d be just simply too busy for that.

    I don’t know if any of that makes sense, and I’m not trying to deny that some of the most popular bloggers are inaccessible simply as a result of that popularity, but there are and always have been a heap of others who create the APPEARANCE of inaccessibility because to be accessible would be “uncool.”

    I am otherwise completely with you on the change in blogging and all of that and while my feed reader is always stuffed full, the number of items I am actually willing to read shrinks all the time. I don’t begrudge people their sponsored posts, but I also don’t always feel like reading them. I get that some people have advertisers to please, but the fake, put on, overwrought “writer voice” that has replaced the natural tone and familiar conversation style of blogging is boring and trite and not worth my time. And I only want to look at so many pictures of frost covered branches. It’s winter. I get it. Write something.

    Even though I’ve had ads in the past, lately I’ve started to feel like my current blog is becoming stuck in the land that time forgot. I’ve heard a lot lately about how no one comments anymore and everyone is on Twitter instead, but I’ve not found that to be the case with my blog at ALL. In fact, comments and engagement are only continuing to INCREASE a time goes on while other long-time bloggers complain of the exact opposite.

    I’m reasonable certain that this is because I answer comments (and also write comments. Very long ones.)

    So I’m too accessible to be cool enough to be offered the same kinds of opportunities other bloggers get. I don’t even LIKE cupcakes, ANYWAY.

    • Avitable

      @TJ, I could understand being less accessible if you’re just so busy that you can’t get to everyone, but even then I would feel terrible about it. I do think that people manufacture their accessibility sometimes. I will go through and unfollow people who don’t interest me anymore or for other reasons, and while I would rather have more people follow me than I follow, just for the sake of keeping up, it’s not something towards which I consciously aim.

      I have noticed that comments have gotten less, but I also know that my writing style has changed so that my posts aren’t always something that people need to comment on. Replying to comments does certainly encourage more interaction, though, which is a good thing.

  15. Colleen

    Hmm… well… I suppose you COULD consider your blog a sort of shrine to yourself. But then I’m thinking that because we’re all here (at your shrine) on a daily basis that would mean we’re kind of worshiping at your shrine. And… I’m not quite sure where this stream of thought is going… except now I’ve been distracted by that picture of you over the side where you’re kind of smirking and look like you’re thinking “what the hell are you talking about” so I’m just gonna move on to my next shrine…

  16. DeannaBanana

    It would be interesting to see what kind of advertisements you could run without any caveats…and how long thereafter until you got arretsed, really.

    It might be a fun experiment to find out…?

  17. Jennifer

    Very well put. I have been reading blogs for some time now because I love to hear about other people. If their blogs weren’t narcissistic, than what would be the fun in reading it? I recently started my own blog because I felt like I had a lot of valuable input in the world of parenting. I was scared to death to start it, because I thought it seemed so self-involved and required a great deal of self-confidence, which I frequently lack. But, it’s been over a month now and I find myself really enjoying it and slowly building a crowd. I have decided, as long as at least one person cares, that’s good enough for me. Thank you for being so self-involved. It’s what makes me come back to your blog everyday and enjoy it as much as I do!

  18. Angela

    I am newer to your blog but really enjoy it. I think it has the right balance of humor and heart and I love that you can say pretty much whatever is on your mind. And I agree with what Jennifer says above; I like reading blogs because I’m interested in the people writing them, so it’s okay with me if they’re narcissistic. However, due to some time issues I recently deleted my entire blog roll including my own. Your blog and my sister’s are the only ones I keep up with for now. They make me smile and I need more of that in my life. 🙂

  19. Michy

    I know I don’t comment very often, but when I do, part of me likes knowing that I’ll almost certainly get an answer. The more connected a blogger is with their audience, the more likely that I’ll want to come back and read and comment more. Your holiday card was one of TWO that I got last Christmas, and therefore is special, even if it wasn’t a big thing to others or maybe you.

    Anyway, why shouldn’t YOUR blog be a shrine to you? Duh, you write it, and you gotta take care of Number One first. All the entertainment we get from it is secondary.

  20. Mo

    I’m a little late to this commenting party, but for what it’s worth, I like coming here because this is how I like to think blogging is done. You write whatever the hell you want and don’t really care if it’s popular opinion or politically correct. You seem less concerned with generating ad dollars or more readers and more concerned with starting a conversation.

    I appreciate that you take the time to respond to comments and tweets, and send Christmas cards to anyone who sends you their address. That just fosters that sense of community that some bloggers just don’t seem to care about.

    I wanna be you when I grow up!

  21. Jenny, Bloggess

    And now I’m all blushy.

    I actually don’t have the emotional capacity to evolve. True story. Plus, I have “problems with authority figures” according to my shrink. I suspect that being emotionally stunted is the only thing keeping me full of unintentional integrity.

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