I could write an autobiography now. Or not.
I recently read some reviews of the memoir You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), by Felicia Day. I’m not emphasising, but despite not knowing much about her or being a fan, I know that she became internet-famous, and that is how people know her. Or a ‘web celeb’ – whatever they dub it as these days. Because of that, some of the reviews tended to be negative, from people who were unaware of her background or claim to fame, curious and later disappointed, some unable to get through the book.
I think most of the criticism came from the fact that her book was all ‘me me me me’. Obviously, when one writes an autobiographical piece of work, there is going to be some element of me, but it seems that hers was amplified. A more mature-aged reader gave the book a chance because she enjoyed autobiographies, but mentioned that the excessive use of UPPERCASE got in the way of her enjoying the book. Someone else said that she tried too hard to be funny, and she wrote in the same way she would speak – which was exhausting.
The nature of autobiographies and/or memoirs has changed, I think – I read autobiographical works such as that of Jane Fonda, and the beautiful Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin. It seems that, being someone in her twenties (I think – though she could be nearing thirty, I don’t know), Felicia Day is ‘too young’ to be writing a memoir. That was another piece of criticism from the reviews I read. Most people who write these bodies of work have had many life experiences, things that they can pass down and teach the youth of future generations.
It seems like a lot of famous people (particularly the young) are turning to writing, the same way a lot of actors and actresses tried to make a career out of singing – or something else, or vice versa, for that matter. Age is totally just a number, and I’ve believed that for a while. I did try to read Felicia Day’s book without thinking too much about the criticism I read, though it was – as some people said – hard to get through. I read a couple of chapters of a sample and I didn’t feel like spending money to read the whole thing. Felicia Day isn’t a teenager, but in her book, she writes like one. I think that that one reviewer was right in saying that she writes in the way she speaks. This isn’t the first book of this nature that I have read, though the more young people write autobiographies, the more I see it as an attempt to garner more attention and get others to think ‘ooh, s/he is special and awesome’.
I wonder if I could write a piece of work about my life. I’m even younger than Felicia Day. Sure, there are things I have learned, but my advice is not useful to anyone except a high schooler or a university student trying super freaking hard to get a job at Facebook or Google. I could write something, but it would not be about my life, it would be something like Stories From My Childhood. Or What Teachers In High School Don’t Tell You. But it stops being an autobiography or a memoir right from the title. That’s a friggin self-help book targeted at people of a certain age.
I also feel that they have changed in tone, with deliberate, sometimes self-deprecating humour, and less of a serious and wise retelling of life lessons. I am not referring directly to You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), but we should either stop labelling these purportedly eye-opening pieces of work ‘autobiographies’ or ‘memoirs’, otherwise everyone is going to be writing supposedly amazing pieces of work about unripe or tacky phases of their lives.