There are plenty of things that one could bring up when discussing Chiamamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel "Americanah." With Ifemelu and Obinze (the story's central characters) leaving behind Nigeria for the United States and Britain, respectively, this can be seen as a "fish out of water" sort of story, with each character running into a variety of western culture's quirks. More specifically, this book deals with the difficult experiences that undocumented immigrants go through, with the ever-present fear of deportation lingering in the background. This book also takes on questions about racial identity, like what it means to be African-American relative to a black American (born in the United States).
I'm a narcissist with a blog, though, so we can put all of that aside for now. Instead, let's talk about Ifemelu's life as a blogger and how I can relate to that. Me!
Once Ifemelu's initial hardships in the United States give way to a relatively stable and secure life, large chunks of the book give way to her blog posts. Excerpts from "Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black" demonstrate her strong authorial voice. Acerbic, intelligent, aware-of-deeply-ingrained-issues-regarding-race-in-this-country, but also not too personally dragged down by it, with a bemused air of feeling a little above all of the silliness... you get the idea.
Ifemelu then spends a lot of time reflecting on the disconnect between Ifemelu the person and Ifemelu the blogger. As more and more people begin to read her blog and seek her out as a public speaker, she wonders if she'll live up to their expectations. When her boyfriend offers up constructive criticism of her writing, she wonders if taking his advice into consideration would undermine her voice. Sometimes she's simply cognizant of the need to always have an opinion on something and to keep the content flowing.
As is the case with social media profiles and other public, online representations of one's "self," you're not really you when you're blogging. At the very least, you're presenting an edited, idealized version of yourself that's super insightful, interesting, funny, or whatever the fuck else. This isn't to say that most people lie or intentionally misrepresent themselves online. It's more that people subconsciously seek the attention and approval of others.
To continue with the narcissism theme, I'll offer myself up as an example. When I went skydiving for the first time last year, I considered it to be significant accomplishment in my life, and I had a great time doing it. Naturally, I also took the opportunity to update my Facebook profile picture to show off some sweet skydiving threads, and I posted a bunch of other silly photos of me getting ready to jump. Because I do awesome things like this all of the time, right? Weirdly enough, I didn't go on to share a bunch of pictures of me sleeping in and playing video games the next day.
So yeah, I ended up reflecting a whole bunch about what I really want to get out of the time that I spend writing and sharing my life experiences online. The book itself was pretty good, too. You might like it!