01 Mar Psssst! Can we stop faking now?
I’m currently studying communication because 40 years (nearly!) into this thing called Life, I figure some sort of certification that affirms that I am coherent when I speak, is a good thing.
In the past few days, two things have really made me question the authenticity of the way we interact today.
The first was a date. It was bad. So very, very bad. About 10 minutes into it, I wanted to leave. Or die. But I couldn’t. Instead, I ordered another giant bottle of fizzy water (it’s fancier than the bubble-less stuff) and asked him questions about his family and ambitions. The answers were template and the whole experience was excruciating. The more I wanted to get out of there, the more I heard some woman inexplicably intone: “That’s fascinating.” That woman was me.
Then yesterday, for an assignment, we had to find a viral video for discussion. I immediately thought of the video of the white guys dancing blackly but I thought: no. That’s bound to offend [REDACTED], [REDACTED] and, quite possibly, [REDACTED]. Then I thought of the video about [REDACTED]. Then I thought no: that’s bound to offend [REDACTED].
But… I’m a [REDACTED].
Yup. You’re bound to offend yourself.
Or, if you don’t end up being offended, it will be because, deep down, you hate yourself.
So I chose something off the BBC. Because anodyne = good.
The faces I presented in these two scenarios are not who I really am. And I feel that is increasingly true of all of us.
In our WhatsApp groups with close friends, in face-to-face conversations with the people who know us best, in the quiet moments when our unfiltered minds mould judgment bullets to later shoot out as snarky, politically incorrect take-downs to make one another laugh. And blush. And fervently pray that WhatsApp really is encrypted because…Eek! We would die if these innermost thoughts were released, without context or kindness, into the ether.
The list of things we aren’t allowed to say anymore seems repressively long to me. Bring back the days when it was ok to say: I’m sorry, I’m not enjoying this, so I’m leaving now. Or: I don’t hate anyone, or believe in looking down on any specific group. Yet somehow, that tickled my funny bone.
Then we could watch videos of white guys dancing ‘blackly’. Or women feeding into clichéd stereotypes about being terrible drivers, without worrying that the Thought Police will try to revoke our humanity card.
Maybe it is possible to be a good person who is occasionally improper. Or be decent while still giving in to the odd ungenerous thought. Being slightly flawed and totally OK with it might even be what makes us human.