Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Projected Self

"He seemed like such a friendly guy!" "They kept to themselves, but were always polite and cordial when we saw them in the neighborhood." "My son played over there a lot. He seemed like such a great father." These are the kinds of statements we often hear about a person who has committed some sort of heinous act. Friends, family and coworkers expressing shock that this person -- of all people -- provided no inkling of the carnage that followed. (Of course, there are just as many cases in which people close to the person aren't shocked at all.)

As much as we might like to think otherwise, it is next too impossible to know another person. What we so often see only is what they want us to see -- the projected self. Even in long-term monogamous relationships, it's fairly routine to learn new things about your beloved 40 or 50 years into the relationship!

Not only do other people not truly know us, but we really don't know ourselves that well either! That's a topic though for a different post than this one.

This general topic came to mind as I was thinking about our rather loose community in the blogosphere. There are several of us that visit each others blogs daily and through posts and comments have become virtual friends. It strikes me as a rather weird phenomena since we really don't know each other.

This is not to suggest a person can't catch a glimpse of another person's soul through their writings, but we sometimes err when we confuse that brief glimpse with actually knowing. For all the eloquent words posted on any blog, we have no way of knowing if the person behind the words is sitting at their keyboard buck naked and viewing porno on their monitor in between keystrokes!!

This is particularly pertinent to this very blog. Unlike most people, I share a great deal of personal information in this space. It's not because I'm exceedingly open nor drastically naive; it's because of the way my brain is wired. I've always shared more information about myself than I'm sure most people would consider prudent, but it's just the way I've always been.

Yet, for all the information I DO share, there are volumes that I don't. Sometimes -- solely because of my patent inability fully to express myself -- I don't know how to explain certain things so that anyone else would understand. At other times, I don't share things simply because it's not the part of myself I want to project.

The upshot of this specific rambling entry is to remind all of us (me included) that the person we come to know through a blog is not the bona fide person behind it. We only get to scratch the bare surface and really have no inkling of what lies below.


  1. Perspective is a thing easily overlooked.
    When all you have to go on is words, then words are all you have to go on.
    I know nothing about anybody when all I see is words. But the words I see can tell me a great deal about the writer of the words.
    The trick is: if there is a trick: is to always remember that words are only one aspect of people, and there are many other aspects, forever unknowable, when words are all we see.
    There exists a formula, though, if we are able to recognize it: that true words say far more than words that appear to be true.
    The difference is quite clear, when our eyes are open, and our perspective is maintained.

  2. Wow, Rambling! This post is so dead-on.

    So, I have to're not planning on letting us all know if you're sitting at your keyboard buck naked, are you? I guess if you are, at least restrain yourself from uploading photos.

    ; )

  3. Crow,
    As always, your sage words have added much to the topic. Thank you!

    No, I'm not buck naked, but I am balancing five squirrels on a thimble. :D)


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