who are we
… on and off line?
Knowing someone on the internet can be kind of strange, as few of us present totally open and honest profiles online. Leaving out “minor details” and smoothing out others, is the norm rather than the exception. We all know that, or at least we should.
Those who know us well in real life may not be surprised by any online discrepancies, as they most likely have the same “reservations”. Would be strange if they didn't, as we all “pretend” – at least in public.
Some pretend a little and some pretend a lot, and some do nothing but pretend their entire lives. Many switch pretensions depending on venue, and some are so far over the top that pretend-scales have to be individually tailored for them.
While “minor refinements” to ones persona may be seen as an improvement by most at the receiving end,
taking pretenses too far turns the individual or group into a joke.
If over-pretentious jokers don't like that classification, they can always pretend themselves to be in an “alternative reality”. They'll be in good company these days.
All living organisms have the ability to pretend to be what they are not, in order to achieve what they otherwise could not. It is part of basic survival skills – bacteria and viruses thrive because they master this skill, so that we humans also pretend our way through life is nothing special.
The potential advantage of being perceived as what we are not, draws all but the most persistant among us into the “pretend trap”. Most of us accept that there is a limit to how far we should follow the urge to pretend to be what we are not, but some will always take it further despite the inherent risk of going too far.
We can find some really great public pretenders around, in politics, business, advertisements, entertainment, etc. Reality is a bitch in public life, and the ability to pretend can be, and is, turned into a veritable artform in many circles.
With “learning how to pretend as expected” being part of the curriculum in most institutions today, does anyone seriously expect the rest of us not to take advantage of it whenever we can?
Pretending to be happy when we're sad, tough when we're weak, pious when we're deceitful, truthful when we are anything but…
We can take our pretend-skills in whatever direction we want, and put on any makeup and cloak we dare dream up. All
in the hope that it will put us at an advantage in our societies.
We just have to remember that at some point the risk of being caught in a net made up of our own pretenses and lies inevitable will be too high for comfort, and when past that point all may be lost. That's when it starts to get ugly.
All information gathered anywhere should be verifiable, and what people and institutions tell us should always be checked for quality. Not doing so leaves us wide open for deceit and exploitation, and there is plenty enough of that already without us asking for more.
If something sounds too good to be true, chances are it won't hold up under scrutiny. Better safe than sorry, and being gullible definitely isn't a trait one should aim for.
So much can go wrong when we let things pass unchecked, and we will only have ourselves to blame when our trust in others lets us down. It is also much easier to trust and deal with others when we know they are truthful.
I'm not sure where exactly on the pretend-scale one can find me at any given time, but at least I do not pretend not to be on it. I am not fond of deception-games though, regardless of what side of the table I'm on.
I am pretty comfortable with what, where, and who I really am, and I can live quite well with the fact that I do not always manage to, or even bother to, live up to my own pretenses – on or off line.
01.oct.2017 - minor editing.
last rev: 01.oct.2017