The insanity of a social self


Tyler Murphy

There is a facade that we all must admit we have.

Think of yourself as a corporation rather than an individual. When controlling the public image, you summon the company’s politically correct and socially engaging representative for duty. It’s kind of like that – rare is the personality that simply pours forth unabated. More often we meet the tempered “representatives” of people. Especially in first impressions.

I amuse myself with the strange, yet common social interaction of two people meeting, guards up, representative out, so much effort and so little personal exchange extracted.

It’s not just so much wanting to be liked by my peers that drives my particular brand of self-censorship as it is my concern I’ll offend people with my over direct and sarcastic personality. I like a truthful joke at my or someone else’s expense. It took me a while to realize that’s a personal preference. Like all good performers say before going on stage, know your audience.

The social graces are a courtesy that are all too often manipulated into deception of a popular image hiding inner motivations. Politicians, lawyers and real life corporate public relations representatives (journalists? I hope not) come to mind. Walks of life I stroll with routinely.

That may seem like a negative connotation, but when you work in a world of presentation is everything and image can trump truth, you need to be aware of all things expressive.

When your livelihood depends on assuming a position you hardly ever get to pick or even agree with, you have to develop a front to absorb the blows and a character to strike back. But the best defense is one of avoidance, not endurance. And the best attacks are subtle, not aggressive.

Keeping a guard up increases the distance of inner thoughts and emotions from being displayed, which often leaves an individual feeling disconnected. Sociopathic tendencies are adopted by choice and motivated by a means of control aimed at greater professional success. It sounds so reasonably insane to me.

Some people take it one step further and project an image in their mind based on what they wish to portray or what reaction they wish to generate from others before proceeding to assume that identity on a case by case basis. They perpetrate multiple deceptions of self out of a desire to obtain or fear of judgment. I wonder if after playing so many parts if a person ever really knows who they really are or what they even really believe. So much effort spent on not being anything – again the social irony amuses me.

The more I think about people’s positions and their desired image, I start to realize there is more than one person to a life.

There is who we think we are, who others think we are and who we really are falling somewhere in between. How far apart those three things fall can says a lot about a person.

What do they say about you?

(Insert rambling thought disclaimer here)