“He felt that most people saw his mask, but that the bishop saw his face.”
-Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)
What is my true face? Who sees the real me?
With the dawn of networks like Facebook and Twitter, immersed in a society that is increasingly me-centered, where is the line between being oneself and self-promotion? How does one walk the road of portraying an identity versus relating out of an identity already established?
According to Facebook I have 1,053 friends. That means if I meet with two friends a week it would take over ten years to see a friend twice. I would be forty years old before I saw some of you, fifty if we were to meet again. Frankly, I’m not okay with this.
What is it, then, that has kept my face, your face, our faces on Facebook? I’m sure many of us would rather not own the fullness of that answer. True, it is a convenient way to stay in touch with those we know who are spread across the country, even around the world, and it’s a quick way to keep others posted (literally!) on our own life.
I propose, however, the existence of a darker side to our relationship with Facebook. Admit it, there are times when we derive some kind of increased value or importance simply based on the number of friends we have displayed on our profile. There are certain photographs immediately un-tagged for fear of being seen in an unwanted light. Even deeper, though, is the reality that I, you, we are afraid of being alone – and even more afraid of becoming known only to be dismissed.
This is not to say social media, in and of itself, is evil, because it isn’t. No doubt people make healthy use of it. I don’t think I’m one of them. When I’m on Facebook I’m liked and noticed, connected and “with” so many people…or am I?
In the midst of the appearance of flourishing relationships, there is a virtual emptiness fostered within the world of social media. It is not accomplishing what we’ve told ourselves it will accomplish. Rather than providing a means of knowing and being known or a true sense of connection, for many of us the “me” we are on Facebook portrays much more than she/he relates.
Are we embracing the mess of authentic relating? Or simply perfecting the art of mask-making?
So, what now? First off, conduct a gut-check. Ask yourself the not-so-comfortable questions like, “Am I relating out of a solidly formed identity? Or am I seeking to form or portray an identity that really isn’t me?”, “What emotional needs do I have? Am I attempting to fulfill these needs in a virtual world…or the real world?”, “What is it I most want in life?”, and “What is it I most fear?”. Be honest with yourself; look at the entire spectrum of your intentions with social media and its ensuing relationships – the good, the bad & the ugly. Where you go from there is for you to decide.
One thing is sure – you do have a true face, a uniquely fabulous face, divinely designed. Get to know that face. And while you’re at it, begin to seek courage to show glimpses of your face to others; let them cherish the true you.
By Kjersten Halvorsen, MA | 719.232.4132
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