We live in a world full of self-editors, of people who constantly censor their true words.
How many times do you hold your tongue when you’re talking to a professor or, even more so, with grandma?
What about in your classes? Do your peers make any difference in what you say, or if you speak up at all? Say, if you’re in a class full of friends versus a class full of know-it-alls?
Then there’s the big kahuna of our generation: social media. Do you let your every thought — from the “I really hope no one notices I forgot to shower for the third day in a row” to the dark corners of your wandering mind during class — get published, or do you only post the ones that you’re comfortable with being out in cyberspace, forever attached to your name?
This topic came up in one of my lit classes a few weeks ago. We were trying to pinpoint the difference between actual history and fiction in literature, then landed on the idea that everything is a forgery of reality, including ourselves. It was just a casual existentialist day, no big deal.
Our realities are altered by our surroundings, whether it be simply not dropping F-bombs in front of our grandparents, or creating new personas when we’re online.
Each and every environment — be it in real life or online — requires a different facet of our personalities. We only let out a small portion of what’s really going on in our heads, in our pasts, in our everything.
We talk about authors, musicians, movie stars, internet personalities, the Kardashians, etc., as if by knowing their work, we know their lives. But that’s simply not true. E.L. James does not equal “Fifty Shades of Grey” — or so I hope — because that was just a part of her mind that she wanted to expose. Tom Felton is not Draco Malfoy. The list goes on.
Even people like Sylvia Plath were censoring themselves. Sure, her journals have been published, but how do we know that her every single thought went directly from her mind onto paper?
In our day, the Internet is flooding with “internet personalities,” and they are exactly that: personalities. People like Tyler Oakley, Jenna Marbles and Jimmy Tatro may seem like they’re revealing their 100-percent true selves to the internet, but they’re not. They’ve created their quirky personalities to exist in their Internet world while they keep their real lives completely separate.
The anonymity of the Internet allows everyone to do that: create a new identity. We portray ourselves the way we want people to see us.
It’s really not that much different from real, flesh-to-flesh communication.
In the end, we’re all just playing along in this farce called life.
This column was originally published in the March 29, 2013, issue of The Daily Eastern News.