Writing is my virtue: it is the right thing to do; it gives me strength, it provides the courage to say things, admit things, I might not without it.
But writing is also my vice. It is an obsession, all consuming, something that I can’t stop thinking about even when doing other things. It is a habit I cannot shake, one that I must live with, am more than willing to do so.
Created by Courtney A. Kemp. With Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren, Naturi Naughton, Joseph Sikora. James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who has it all, catering to the city’s elite and dreaming big, lives a double life as a drug kingpin.
There has always been something different about Paul Zimmer. In 2015, when he joined Musical.ly, the app for sharing lip-syncing videos that was bought by TikTok in 2018, he posted near-daily clips of himself doing jerky dance moves, acting out scenes with his fiancé, Jamie, and flashing his abs. Within 18 months, Zimmer’s seemingly mundane videos were regularly drawing half a million views per clip and he became one of the most popular users on the app. By the start of 2017, Zimmer had gained an audience of just under a million Instagram followers and a whopping seven million on Musical.ly. These followers then transferred to TikTok when it was bought, giving Zimmer one of the largest followings on the world’s fastest-growing social media platform. But in April 2017, Zimmer’s empire began to crumble. Using Musical.ly’s sister app, Live.ly, a platform for livestreaming videos, Zimmer had been soliciting “gifts”: paid-for stickers that users could send to their favourite stars, which transferred the cash value of the gift to that star, from his fans in exchange for favours such as shout-outs in videos, sharing their videos on his page, and sending them personalised DMs thanking them for their donation. At the time, this was a relatively normal practice (if a slightly dodgy one, given it involved users as young as 13). But Zimmer rapidly became Musical.ly’s most talked-about star when hundreds of users complained that he had not honoured the promises he’d made to secure these gifts, prompting the hashtag #BanPaulZimmer. In the midst of the controversy, he disappeared from social media entirely – wiping his Instagram and YouTube channel of all content. @username7265824 Spam me with likes picking some texting buddies original sound – paulzimmer For nearly two years, Zimmer remained silent. His fiancé, Jamie Rose, who featured heavily in his videos at the time, also disappeared from social media at around the same time. That was until late last year, when Zimmer reappeared with a bizarre post that many claim was an attempt to rebrand himself as a new person, Troy Becker: someone with a different age, job, and identity. Screenshot via Zimmer’s Instagram account On 14 October 2019, Paul Zimmer posted a side-by-side image of himself (sporting a barely-grown-out beard) next to another image of what appeared to be himself, albeit clean-shaven. “This actor @TroyBeckerIG kid literally looks like a younger sexier version of me,” Zimmer wrote. “I don’t even use social media anymore but had to post this hahah…” Clicking on Troy Becker’s Instagram led to an almost unpopulated account, with only 11 posts uploaded before Zimmer’s side-by-side post. For a Gen-Z actor, this would amount to an unusually sparse social media presence. It’s hard to track the fan response to this post because comments on Zimmer’s Instagram are disabled. But almost two months later, on December 10, another “Troy Becker” post was made, addressing those who had responded that Becker was in fact Zimmer by saying: “IM TELLING YOU HE IS MY YOUNGER BRO [crying laughing emoji]”). The third post, on 18 December, was a bombshell: “Hey it’s Paul Zimmer,” he wrote, “this is prolly gonna be my last social post ever… I have come to a place in my life where being in the spotlight and being an entertainer is no longer my passion… although it deeply saddens me to leave so bluntly, especially that so many of you have watched me for so many years…. I didn’t wanna leave my social media pages just sitting to die… soo I have decided to give my social media accounts to @troybeckerig because he is one of the dopest people I know and he is literally my younger twin my much younger twin I believe Troy is 15 or 16 years old hahaha…” Zimmer was apparently offering to give up public life and hand over an audience of more than eight million followers to a teenage boy who just happened to look exactly like him. In any situation, this would be an unusual, and unusually generous thing to do. But for many commentators it was simply unbelievable. YouTube sleuth Haylo Hayley is a long-time Zimmer obsessive. Hayley posted a video on her channel in October, following Zimmer’s first Troy-related Instagram post. “If you listen to [Troy’s voice on his Instagram] it sounds exactly the same as Paul Zimmer,” she said. For her, it seemed painfully obvious evidence that Troy Becker was just Zimmer in new clothes. “I know for 100% it’s Paul Zimmer… [because] I met him in person when I went to New York in 2017″, she added. “I met Paul and Jamie [his fiancé] there.” Another YouTuber, Danny Gonzalez also made a video about Zimmer’s apparent transformation to Troy Becker on 30 December 2019, after Zimmer revealed that he’d be giving “Troy” his social media accounts. Gonzalez included videos and pictures of “Troy Becker” taking part in an acting class with Zimmer’s fiancé at The Heller Approach, an acting school in LA, on June 10 – four months before Zimmer’s first post about Becker. The appearance and voice of Zimmer and “Becker” appear to be identical. View this post on Instagram Surprise yourself. Take risks. See what colors come out in the moment. #thehellerapproach #nonmethodacting #bradheller #acting #film #television #freeactingtips #actorstudio #theateracting #screenacting #commercialacting #training #audition #auditioning #moviestar #celebrity #drama #comedy #farce #filmgnere #filming #donrichardson #skype #grouptheater #hollywood #losangeles #troybecker #mattsato #mathewsato A post shared by The Heller Approach (@thehellerapproach) on Jun 9, 2019 at 7:09pm PDT Zimmer’s followers didn’t need a YouTube explainer video to convince them that Zimmer and Becker are the same man – on TikTok, every video posted as “Troy” brings in an avalanche of comments on the subject. “Paul it’s really creepy you’re pretending to be 16”; “nobody is falling for it”; “you’re literally wearing the same earrings that you always post photos in”; “even their voices are the same”; “you’re not fooling anyone”; “CEO of pretending to be a different person”. There are more than ten thousand comments on Zimmer’s recent TikToks. It’s difficult to find any that aren’t related to, and critical of, the apparent rebrand. Zimmer continues to maintain that he and Becker aren’t the same person. However, Becker’s IMDb page indicates the actor may have had doubts of his own. While in its current state it includes very little information, a cached version from 7 October 2019 shows that Troy Becker’s “nickname” was “Paul Zimmer”. The page was cached a week before Zimmer did his original side-by-side post having apprently discovered his doppelgänger. Until Monday morning the trivia section on Becker’s IMDb page also read “Troy Becker is an alter ego of Paul Zimmer of musical.ly fame” and “Troy Becker was formerly known as Paul Zimmer as a musically star”, although these could have been added by fans rather than by Zimmer himself. Screenshots of Zimmer’s now deleted TikToks as “Troy” I contacted “Troy Becker” through his social media accounts and website, but he did not respond to requests for comment. He continues to post regular videos to TikTok and Instagram. Zimmer shows that, even when you seem to have been permanently cancelled, there are creative ways to make a comeback – and he has undoubtedly regained everyone’s attention. Update: This piece was updated at 11:30 on 9 January 2020 to reflect that Zimmer has deleted his Instagram account, deleted his TikToks as “Troy”, and has changed his TikTok handle.
So how do you know if your identity has become enmeshed with your career? Consider the following questions:
How much do you think about your job outside of the office? Is your mind frequently consumed with work-related thoughts? Is it difficult to participate in conversations with others that are not about your work?
How do you describe yourself? How much of this description is tied up in your job, title, or company? Are there any other ways you would describe yourself? How quickly do you tell people you’ve just met about your job?
Where do you spend most of your time? Has anyone ever complained to you that you are in the office too much?
Do you have hobbies outside of work that do not directly involve your work-related skills and abilities? Are you able to consistently spend your time exercising other parts of your brain?
How would you feel if you could no longer continue in your profession? How distressing would this be to you?
This does not just relate to being burnt out, it also touches on when the.
Ultimately, I’ve realised that it’s OK to not be ‘OK’ — and to let other people know. I’ve learned to let go a little and draw more boundaries. It’s alright just to be me, and not some idealised version of me that either younger Doug, or the wider world, expects.
I also like your point about being inconsistency:
There are no easy answers here and choosing to retreat from the world feels like giving up. So I’ll keep on keeping on, even if it seems like sometimes I’m inconsistent. What was it that Emerson said about a “foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds”? (and I think it was Oscar Wilde who said that “consistency is the hallmark of the unimaginative”)
But teens don’t use social media just for the social connections and networks. It goes deeper. Social-media platforms are among our only chances to create and shape our sense of self. Social media makes us feel seen. In our Instagram “biographies,” we curate a line of emojis that feature our passions: skiing, art, debate, racing. We post our greatest achievements and celebrations. We create fake “finsta” accounts to share our daily moments and vulnerabilities with close friends. We find our niche communities of YouTubers.
Digital wellness movements insist there is a single way to “stay human”
Regardless of how worthy their causes may be, both these apps require the user to enter into a thoroughly designed user-position — the Perfect User — to even be recognized as a subject by the socio-technical apparatus. One cannot function as a user without conforming to the modes of use that have been designed into the system. Put differently, apps like Siempo and Add Intent are actively involved in producing the kind of subject with which they claim to interact. The user of these systems remains a docile subject to be brought under control and disciplined, but the fantasy-structure of intentionality masks the ideological functioning of the apps, not to mention the broader structures of wellness capitalism itself, by encouraging an aspirational form of digital consumption. Tech humanism more or less insists that one be a user to be recognized as human. This move keeps us tethered to classic humanist structures of categorization, whereby some users are considered better than others.
The Perfect User may appear to be a self-evidently superior form of subjectivity well-suited to the pressures of our techno-social age, but that should not blind us to the relational politics and ideological entanglements that lie behind it. Though it seems rooted in wellness and empowerment, it implicitly retains the hierarchies and exclusions of enlightenment humanism by assuming the nature of the “human” subject it requires.
To help me make more progress I am breaking my efforts into three distinct phases:
- Healing – Cleaning up the mess I have created.
- Strengthening – Establishing the presence I want.
- Anchoring – Connect myself to things in the real world.
While questions remain about motive, it is clear Abdelmalek deployed a unique set of skills to infiltrate her victims’ lives. She uncovered the contact details of family members and repeatedly fooled Optus staff into revealing confidential information, even when a security pin was protecting the account.
Also on: Read Write Collect
It just struck me that in introducing me, there was mention of my institutional role and my blogging and tweeting… but not Virtually Connecting. And I had realized earlier this year that Vconnecting is part of my identity. It’s simple but complicated
[Writing is] not just something I do. It is something I am.
You can also watch her conversation with Downes here:
As we look at our incoming students and the names that they carry, I feel the importance of the correct pronunciation. How their names carry their history. How their names carry the hopes that their parents grew as they blessed their new baby with a way to be known to the world. How because I gave up on correcting people, I will forever be known as something that my mother didn’t intend. How even when my husband tells me he loves me my name is not completely correct. How my own children don’t know how to say it the right way because their American tongues get in the way. And I chose to live with that. Too late to make a difference now.
So yeah. I mean, we can’t generalize about Africa. I share some things w South Africa but not apartheid history. I share some things w Tunisians but I don’t actually understand their Arabic dialect. I share a lot with Sudan but more with Jordan even though Egypt and Sudan used to be one country. I was born and raised in Kuwait but share more with third culture kids than I do with Kuwaitis.
As Harvard graduate student Holly Ellmore explains in Quartz, faking happiness on social media, while often detrimental, can also be an effective means of fighting mental illness.