The web persona known as “Billax” may have been “wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958” — the name of his website — but it only took a couple of years of blogging to get creeped out by a troll and decide to quit.
On Sunday Billax announced that he is shuttering the site after a fellow member of the Ask Andy Trad Forum began to copy not only his outfits, Billax claims, but to copy his prose as well — in other words, a double-whammy of sartorial and literary plagiarism.
Now while that may sound creepy, it’s also pretty petty in the grand Internet scheme of things, where things like doxing and leaked nude pics are the norm. Apparently the AAAT member has had other online altercations, was reprimanded for this particular instance, and one would assume that this drama would eventually subside and Billax could go back to sharing his thoughts and outfits without some idiot presenting them as his own.
Instead, Billax stated to Ivy Style in an email:
The world of screen-name Internet fora is susceptible to weak-willed, low-ethics, wannabe superstars. One of them just settled on me as a source of words to be stolen. Not really surprising, just very disheartening that well educated professional writers – like the guy who stole from me – feel the need to use someone else’s words as a platform to have their screen name become credible. I guess that’s what Internet fame is all about.
The offending user has already taken up at Film Noir Buff — the so-called “Devil’s Island” of menswear forums — and there is a thread in which he attempts to explain his actions.
Now it’s no fun to have a creepy stalker obsessed with you on the Internet. I managed to inspire Tradsville’s most notorious — Jimmy Frost Mellor, aka “Russell Street” — who spent years spouting vile stuff about me on the web. But such is the price for being a public figure, which is what being a blogger is. Imagine what it’s like being Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, with tens of thousands of slanders spat forth about you every day.
In 2013, in the wake of the WASP 101 scandal (if that’s the right word), I wrote an essay called “Blogging Is Publishing And Publishing Is A Public Act.” This may be an opportune time to revisit it. Based on observation, the shelf-life of an amateur vanity blog is rather limited, and Tradsville is full of instances such as the following:
* Blog has adverse effect on blogger’s real job.
* Blogger runs out of ideas and has to apologize to fans for ceasing posts.
* Blogger stops blogging, takes down site rather than leaving it up for posterity, befuddling fans in the process, puts it back up again only to take it down again, etc., etc.
* Blogger overshares private life, gets freaked out, scrubs blog, and attempts to retreat into anonymity.
* Blogger inspires thread on Get Off My Internets.
Billax has fans, some of which will no doubt respect his decision, while others will be disappointed. But even that is part of being a blogger. You have to accept the old adage that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I don’t mean just ponder those words for a moment in a desultory manner, I mean actually accept them and commit to what they mean. You need very thick skin to put yourself online — even when you chop your head off in photos and hide behind an anonymous username. Billax wanted the protection of anonymity for himself, but was shocked when another used that same anonymity protection for petty and trollish purposes. It’s like free speech: people staunchly invoke their right to free speech, but get furious when others invoke theirs.
I hope Billax will continue to be a citizen of Tradsville in some capacity. Not only is he a first-hand witness of the Ivy heyday, I always felt he embodied an important sartorial lesson for those inclined to dress themselves in a paint-by-numbers fashion. Billax embraces the entire genre of the Ivy League Look, all the colors, all the items, all the combinations. He has enough innate style to see beyond stale formulas such as blazer, khakis, loafers, blue OCBD and rep tie, and within the wide parameters of a fixed genre he expresses himself marvelously. In the words of Goethe, it is in limitation that the master reveals himself. — CC